Here is Chapter One of a book that I have coming out in publication in the near future. I have it posted out there for free to read in a few places, so I thought I would add it here as well to give people an idea of my style.
"Yes, sir," Melanie spoke quickly into the headset. "I understand what you're saying."
"No, you don't!" the man snapped at her from the other side of phone connection. "If you understood, you wouldn't be doing this! How am I supposed to put food on the table for my kids?"
"Sir, I'm sorry that you're having financial problems," she sighed as she spoke. "But the Court Order entitles us to garnish your bank account up to the outstanding balance on–"
"I need that money!" he cut her off. "I have checks out that are going to bounce now. I'll set up a payment plan with you to get this paid off, but you can't have all the money in my bank account. Most of it wasn't even my money. My brother deposited his student loan money in there. You're allowed to take his money, too?"
Melanie winced. This was one of her least favorite parts about the job. What she wanted to tell him was that, no, they weren't entitled to keep the money that belonged to his brother. To get it back, all he had to do was file a motion with the Court. Hire a lawyer, she yearned to tell him. You'll get most of it back.
"Sir, I can't give you legal advice," she told him instead, towing the company line. The call was being recorded. Her supervisor might even be listening in at this moment. "We are simply acting on the Court Order to garnish your bank account. If you have a legal defense to our taking of the funds, you'll have to take that up with the Court."
"How long will that take?" he asked. "I need that money now."
"I'm not a lawyer, sir," she responded. "You would have to talk to an attorney or the Court to find out when they can schedule a hearing."
"I can't wait for a hearing!" he cried out into the phone. "You have to give me back my money!"
"I can't do that, sir," she replied. She kept her voice calm, though all she wanted to do was hang up the phone and walk to her car, never to return.
"Then let me talk to someone who can!" he demanded.
"One moment," she answered. "I'll transfer you to my supervisor."
Melanie put the call on hold and notated the account with the basics from the conversation. She breathed a sigh of relief as she transferred the call to Rick, glad not to have to listen to the angry debtor any longer. Most of the time, she told herself, the job was really not that bad. Calling people to try and collect money from them was not a rewarding or glamorous line of work, but it paid the bills well enough to support school by day. At moments like this one, however, when she had to deal directly with the impact that her work had on real people with families, she hated herself.
Turning on her auto-dialer, she let it begin its search through the seemingly endless list of people who owed the company money. When it found another live body for her to talk to, she would get an alert. While she waited, Melanie turned her attention to the flashing icon at the bottom of her computer screen. She had received messages while she was on the call. Technically, she was not supposed to be logged in to the instant messaging service while on the clock. The policy was not enforced, however. Her department supervisor recognized that there was down time between calls and did not really care what she and the other collectors did during it. As long as their collection numbers were on track each month, he paid no mind to them as they prowled Facebook or Netflix.
She clicked on the icon, bringing the message window back up in front of her. She had three messages from her contact list and one from an unknown. A smile touched her lips as she saw that she had one from him. Forcing herself to wait, she went through the other three first. The unknown sender, whose handle turned out to be 'masterofall' had cleverly managed to ask three vital questions while only using three letters and a question mark: 'asl?'. It was, she knew, a common internet convention that stood for age, sex, and location. She appreciated that the poor man was probably just saving himself the effort of typing out whole words. Experience, however, told her that men who thought this was an appropriate introductory greeting were usually looking for very different things than she was.
Despite this knowledge, and the likelihood that continued contact would be futile, she decided to give him a chance. After all, she had met a few people worth chatting with who started in this same way. She typed her response, hoping that the style of it would prompt something more from him.
melanie_sought: Hi there. Thanks for reaching out to me. I'm a 24 year old woman and I live in Pittsburgh. I am 5'3", 115 pounds, with an athletic body. I'm a runner. I have green eyes and wavy magenta hair that comes down a little past my shoulders. Oh, and I have b cup breasts.
Even after her long experience with the virtual world, it still felt strange to provide this sort of information about herself up front to complete strangers. He had not asked for her to describe herself, but it was a pre-emptive move. She knew the request would be forthcoming. Since she had provided that, he quickly jumped to the next on the standard-issue list. She often wondered if there actually was a list out there somewhere that was distributed to guys when they opened their accounts.
masterofall: do u cam?
melanie_sought: No, I don't. It really doesn't fit with why I come online. I am here strictly to roleplay fantasies that I can't effectively act out in the real world. Sorry.
The answer was not entirely true. There were a few people with whom she had shared some online webcam sessions. Those times had only come after she had reached a level of comfort with the person and believed that the added visual element would enhance the experience. Most people who were looking for camera time up front were not people that shared her desires.
masterofall: what is that?
The response was not unexpected, and it told her everything that she needed to know. Still, just because he had never been exposed to the joys of roleplaying did not mean that he might not appreciate them. She gave him a brief overview.
melanie_sought: Roleplaying is like a game of the imagination or a story co-written by two people. My partner and I make up a scene and decide on what will be involved in the scene. We decide who I am and where I am, with some loose guidelines for what will happen to me. Then we take turns writing our parts of the story to each other. My favorite scenes are ones where I am kidnapped and kept in bondage against my will.
Expecting not to hear from that "master" again, Melanie went on to the next in her pending queue. It was from 'metrophillydom.' The two of them had been chatting online for a few years. In the beginning, their roleplaying sessions had been amazing. She smiled at the memory. He was always so incredibly detailed and explicit. Her toes curled at the mental images of the long-lasting scene they had played out where she was being interrogated by Homeland Security for alleged terrorist activity. As they had typed their messages back and forth to each other, the scene had come alive in her mind. It had been so vivid that she still flashed back to it in her mind at night when she was alone in her bed.
Unfortunately, things had gradually changed with him. He had started by asking her to perform tasks for him while they played. In the beginning, it had been fun and exciting. He would have her dress in certain ways in preparation for the scenes, usually matching whatever her character was wearing. He would stop play and have her do a quick series of calisthenics or carve an onion so that her eyes would tear up. At first, the interruptions had been brief and, she had to admit, they had definitely helped her dive deeper into her role.
Over time, though, the real life demands had come to almost completely replace the online ones. He had seemed to lose interest in their previous games and only wanted to play with her when she was able to act them out in the real world, too. Melanie had made the mistake, she realized now, of sending him some pictures of her state in a few of their scenes. The pictures themselves had been innocent enough; a shot of her face with tears and mascara running down her cheeks from the onions and some pictures of the skirt and boots he liked so much. But now, he wanted pictures of everything. More than that, he was desperate for her to play with him while the webcam was rolling. Her reluctance to take that step had put a strain on their previously wonderful relationship.
Even now, when Melanie clicked open his message, she saw that it was more of the same. He wanted to know if she was at home or work. Before, he had been more than willing to play out parts of their scenes while she was logged in at the office. He had always been accepting of the lags that would occur when the dialer connected and she had to speak with someone. He had even gone so far as to claim that it turned him on to think of her having these racy chats while surrounded by cubicles of fellow co-workers.
Those days were gone now. When she responded that she was at work, the immediate question came back to ask when she would be home. She would not be home until after her shift at eleven, of course, which she told him. He wanted to know if she would be online then. In the past, she would have stayed up long into the night with him, sacrificing a good night's sleep before her early morning classes in order to capture the excitement that he always brought her. She responded that she would try, but that she was pretty tired. She was not surprised when he logged off.
"Hello. Is someone there?" the voice suddenly spoke in Melanie's earpiece.
"Yes, I'm here. Before I begin I have to tell you that I am calling on behalf of a debt collector in an attempt to collect a debt," Melanie's voice went on autopilot as she opened the collection screen to see the debtor's name. "Is this Natalie Cameron?"
"Yes," the woman replied, her voice hesitant.
"Hi, Natalie," Melanie continued. "I'm calling about your past-due credit card account with-"
"I know what you're calling about," the woman cut her off. "I'm sorry, but I just don't have anything to pay you. I'm just a cashier. I can barely pay my rent."
"I understand," Melanie responded, putting on her most sympathetic voice. These are tough times for everyone. If you could just set up a good faith payment, I can help you. Can you afford, say, fifty dollars?"
The call ended with a click, another not too uncommon occurrence. Melanie turned her attention back to the messenger service as she set the auto-dialer back to work. The third message was from 'jesterkeeper', a humorous contact across the pond in England. He was one of the few non-roleplaying relationships that she fostered. Their chats were always the same. He claimed to own a large piece of property on the outskirts of London. He would tell her all about the many interesting implements that were contained within his house and set up in the woods around it. She did not know if any of it was true, but that did not matter. It was just fun to sit back and hear about all of the many things he would do to her if she ever found herself on his property.
Melanie's heart beat a little more quickly as she opened the fourth and final message. She and "mr_jack" had started chatting about three months earlier. His real name was Jonathan and he had found her through one of her blog posts. The blog had been about the difficulties she had properly describing her nature to people in the bondage community. She did not consider herself a submissive. Sure, she loved bondage. The very thought of being tied up had moved her powerfully for as long as she could remember. But, to her, the excitement of bondage did not come from giving herself over willingly to those ropes and chains. She wanted to be taken. She wanted to struggle against the hold of her restraints. In her deepest and darkest fantasies, she wanted to cry and plead for mercy, only to have her pleading fall on deaf ears.
It had been, by far, her most popular blog update. The responses left by viewers had been many and varied. A few women identified with her, echoing her thoughts. Some others told her that she had deep psychological problems and needed help. The majority had been from dominant men, telling her that she truly was a submissive and that she only needed the right dominant man to unlock that side of her. Some of those had left phone numbers.
And there, buried among the responses, had been Jonathan's. She had almost missed it, surrounded as it was by the other more common comments. He had shown an understanding of her desires that she had not often found online. He had not called her a submissive, had not had a label for her at all in fact. You thrill to the thought of being hunted, his post had told her. Your desire does not stem from the act of submitting, but rather from the knowledge that you have no control over your fate. Your post tells that you long to be afraid. In your fear, you find the release of self. Melanie had read his words countless times since then. Online chat sessions had begun shortly after that, like the one she was looking forward to having with him tonight. She clicked open his message.
mr_jack: Good evening, pet. It is always such a pleasure to log on and find you here. At the risk of making your head swell, you really are unique among those that I have found in this virtual world. Let me know if you have some time to chat.
Melanie's grin broadened as she read Jonathan's words on the screen, washing away her earlier disappointment with 'masterofall' and 'metrophillydom.' She knew she was different. She knew she was unique. But it was still nice to hear that someone appreciated those things about her. Too often, the things that defined her differences from others proved to be hindrances more than benefits. Not with Jonathan, though. She quickly typed a response.
melanie_sought: Awww… how sweet of you to think so. And, yes, I would love to chat. What did you have in mind for tonight? I am at work, though, so we can't get too crazy.
Every session with him was different. Usually, they role played scenes together. Sometimes, though, they shared discussions of her likes and dislikes or talked about things that were entirely unrelated to bondage and fantasy. It had not taken long for her to reveal more about herself to him than she had to any of her other online friends. When they had begun role playing, she had asked him who he wanted her to play. It was a common question in her world. She did not mind helping her play partners live out their own personal fantasies by taking on the roles that they most desired. In fact, it added to the excitement for her.
Some would ask her to play famous actresses and mock celebrities. Hayden Panettiere seemed to be the most common choice these days. Melanie often wondered what it was about that girl that made so many people want to kidnap her. At other times, she would be asked to play a real person from her partner's life; whether a former girlfriend or High School crush, it was always someone who had scorned her partner in some fashion.
mr_jack: Another late night in the cubicles, just as the weekly schedule foretold. Tell me what you are wearing. That will make it easier to find you in the parking lot.
In the scenes they played together, Jonathan had always asked her to be herself. All of their stories had involved aspects of her real world. She had revealed countless details about her day-to-day life to him. He knew where she went to school and had a copy of her schedule of classes. He knew the hours she worked and the location of the towering office building where she toiled. She knew that it was potentially dangerous to share this information with him. When she was honest with herself, though, she recognized that the danger was part of the reason she shared the information.
melanie_sought: I am afraid that it's nothing to get worked up about tonight. I'm dressed for comfort, not style. Just a green university t-shirt, grey baggy sweatpants, and my comfy Uggs. Sorry to disappoint.
"Melanie, can I talk to you for a moment?" Rick's voice appeared behind her.
"Sure, what's up?" she asked, turning in her chair as she minimized the messenger window with practiced ease. Rick might not care that they use the computers for personal purposes between calls, but she really wasn't in the mood to share this with him or anyone.
"That last call you sent me," he said as he entered her cubicle. He was an attractive guy, tall and slender with a runner's body. Unlike the rest of her co-workers, he always dressed up a little bit. Today, he was wearing a light blue dress shirt and a pair of tan slacks.
"I wasn't getting anywhere with him," Melanie responded. "He just kept demanding that we release the garnishment. That's why I sent it to you."
"Well, yeah, and that's fine," he smiled, stepping in a little closer. "It's just, well, you've been here for about a year now, right?"
"Just over, yeah," she nodded.
"By this point, you really shouldn't have to dump so many calls on me, should you?" he asked, raising an eyebrow. "I mean, it's not like I have some magic power or something to get them off the phone. You just have to be more assertive with them."
"I told him that I couldn't release it," she furrowed her brow.
"I know," he sighed. "But it all comes down to how you say it. The tone of your voice says more than the words that come out of your mouth. I listened to the recording of the call. You weren't forceful enough. I could tell that you didn't mean it when you said it."
"I'll try harder," she answered.
"That's it," he nodded. He reached down to place a hand on her shoulder as she looked up at him. "When upper management reviews the exception reports, one of the things they're looking for is how much supervisor support you take up. To be frank, you're the highest on the floor. You don't want their eyes on you."
"No, I guess not," she answered. She felt his hand squeeze her shoulder.
"I go to bat for you, though," he said with a smile. "You may not have the highest collection numbers, but I like having you around."
"Thanks, Rick," she matched his smile. She might not like the job or the way that Rick looked at her, but she needed the money. "I'll watch out for that."
"Good girl," he said condescendingly as he released her shoulder before turning to leave her cubicle.
"Oh, and one more thing," he said, stopping to look back from the edge of her workspace. "A few of us are going to stop for a few at the Shillelagh after work tonight. Care to join us?"
"No, not tonight," she answered quickly, offering him an insincere frown. "I have class early tomorrow. I'm not going to get enough sleep as it is."
"I gotcha," he winked. "Let's plan for Friday night, then. That way you can dress up a bit, too."
"Oh, maybe, I don't know," she quickly stammered.
"Mel, how can you expect me to go to bat for someone who won't even share a drink with the crew?" he chuckled. "Make it work."
Melanie sighed as he left without another word. It was really turning out to be a great night out here in the real world, she thought to herself. Fortunately, she had another world that promised to be better. She clicked open the messenger window again.
mr_jack: By now, I would hope that you realize I don't care what you're wearing. If I don't like it, the option is always mine to simply change it. I simply ask as a matter of job professionalism. We kidnappers have to be thorough. Imagine the embarrassment if we were to take the wrong girl. On that same note, how are you wearing your hair tonight?
mr_jack: I assume, by your delay, that the demands of the real world are intruding. In the mean time, then, I will tell you what I have in mind for tonight. I am feeling in the mood to start up a new scene. Tell me your thoughts on religious zealotry. It's an angle that we haven't approached before and a personal favorite of mine. Any interest in encountering the modern-day Spanish Inquisition?
Melanie almost melted through her chair as she read his words, the tension of the meeting with her supervisor quickly evaporating. Images of heavy iron shackles and brutal whippings instantly replaced thoughts of drinks at the Shillelagh.
mel_sought: My hair is up today in a ponytail. As I mentioned, today I'm build for comfort.
mel_sought: As for the Spanish Inquisition, I am 100% on board. I absolutely adore the concept.
mr_jack: Before we begin, tell me what it is most that intrigues you about it.
She thought for a moment before answering. In the forefront of her mind was the strength of the restraints. All of the images that she had ever seen of bondage from those days looked so powerful and wicked. Heavy iron shackles were so much more intimidating than slender, modern handcuffs. Losing herself for a moment in that thought, she imagined the feel of the firm metal on her slender ankles and wrists, digging into her flesh and weighing them down. She almost began to type those thoughts. But there was more to it, she realized. Chewing her lip thoughtfully, she typed her answer.
mel_sought: While I love the physical bondage implements of the theme, there's actually more to it than that. I love the feeling of hopelessness that's involved. I'm imagining being accused of heresy or witchcraft. Even though I'm not guilty, there's no way to prove my innocence. I'm going to be tortured mercilessly. To my Inquisitors, the only possible proof of my innocence would be surviving the torture through the grace of God. So there is no real hope. It just becomes a matter of how long before I break down and confess.
The phone chirped in Melanie's ear again, alerting her that the dialer had found yet another potential candidate to cough up money on a debt they had likely forgotten they owed. She hoped that this one would be more amenable to a payment arrangement than the last two. She typed a quick message to Jonathan to let him know she had to take a call and then brought up the collection screen.
The call seemed to drag on forever. A usual, the woman who answered started out aggravated. But she made some headway on this one. Aggravation eventually gave way to petulance, which was quickly followed by exasperation. An eternity later, the woman had agreed to make small monthly payments. A quick calculation told Melanie that it would take approximately eighteen years to pay off the loan that way. She finally hung up the phone after inputting the woman's checking account information. She wondered how long those automatic withdrawals would last before the woman cancelled the arrangement. They always did. She notated the account and then brought up the conversation window.
mr_jack: While you are gone, I will take this opportunity to describe what I am thinking for the scene. You are yourself, of course. We will begin with you out at a bar. You're there with some friends, and please let me know if this is something that could realistically happen.
mr_jack: You drink a little more than you usually do (or less, if you're the type that usually drinks yourself into a coma). Your inhibitions lower. At some point during the night, you are acting a little loose in the bar. I'll leave the specifics to you, but the idea is that you will attract the attention of a very conservative man who views your actions as affront to his religion.
mr_jack: He takes it upon himself to correct your ways and set you back o the path of righteousness. He takes you from the bar to his secluded retreat. Perhaps the retreat is a former church, now abandoned. That's another affront to him, of course. The idea that the heathens of this day would have let a church fall into disrepair disgusts him. Maybe that's part of how he will help you redeem yourself, by putting your body to work repairing the old church.
Melanie moaned softly to herself as she read the description waiting for her on the screen. It was perfect. She could not wait to dive into the scene and to see what sort of torments he had in mind for her within that old church. Her mind was racing as she typed. She had only one concern about it.
melanie_sought: It's perfect. Well, it's perfect for me, that is. From the sounds of it, this scene isn't going to give you much of an opportunity for sexual play. You know that's fine with me, but are you sure it will be satisfying for you?
In fact, it was perfectly fine for her. When she roleplayed, the sex always took a back seat to the rest of the scene. She could find sex in the real world. For that matter, she could find bondage in the real world. The responses to her blog posts proved to her how many willing dominants there were out there just waiting for the opportunity. What she could not find in the real world was the nonconsensual danger that her virtual world offered. She had tried to play at it with partners in the past, pretending to be an unwilling captive as they made love. But none of those attempts were half as satisfying as the ones that played out online and in her mind.
mr_jack: Melanie, a game of backgammon with you would be satisfying enough for me. You are the most descriptive and imaginative woman that I have ever chatted with. Sex is not necessary for me to enjoy the scene. In fact, I think that it will add a lot to this one for it NOT to be a motivation. So then, tell me what you would be wearing to the bar on this night?
melanie_sought: I want it to be at the Shillelagh, this coming Friday night. I will be getting there around 11:30 with my supervisor, Rick, and some of the guys who work here.
Melanie had typed those words without thinking. It just felt right to set the scene of the mutual story they would create. There was something almost poetic about the fact that the forced invitation had occurred just moments before Jonathan's idea. Her response had not answered his question, though, so she began to type another line. She paused, running through her wardrobe in her mind. What would she wear on Friday night? Before she finished typing, a new message appeared.
mr_jack: I assume from your last message that this is a real get-together that you will be attending. Please confirm that this is the Shillelagh at the intersection of Maple and Fourth. Also, I will expect you to send me a picture of yourself that night from somewhere inside the bar.
His instant pinpointing of the Shillelagh sent a little shiver down her spine. It was not a big deal. She knew that. He had probably just down an online search for a bar by that name in her town and found it. He was hundreds of miles and two time zones away. She considered her wardrobe carefully. She wanted it to be something that would excite him and she knew where his desires rested. He loved her dressed up in skirts and stockings, particularly when those were combined with boots. It was decidedly not the type of outfit she typically wore when she went out. Taking the plunge, she deleted what she had begun to type.
melanie_sought: I will be wearing a khaki skirt with tan, thigh high stockings. For shoes, I will wear my knee high brown suede boots. You've seen them. The slouchy ones with the straps around the ankles. I will wear a white tank top with that dark brown half-jacket over it.
Melanie bit her lip as she hit send. She was locked into the decision now. There would not be any consequences or punishment if she did not go through with the promise, of course, but there would be disappointment. She hated the idea of disappointing Jonathan.
mr_jack: Stepping outside our comfort zone, are we? Every eye in that bar is going to be on you, I hope you know. That seems like exactly the sort of outfit that our friendly neighborhood religious zealot would take offense to. So then, if you're ready, paint the scene of your entry to the Shillelagh for me with that magic prose of yours and let's get this started.
Melanie began to type.