cath408r.gif (4599 bytes) Bound & Determined
Story by Ropespierre
Cathryn Beaumont photographed by Lorelei

 

My friends and I meet at a downtown bar on Thursday nights, and a few months ago this guy, Mike, walked in. Some of the girls knew him so they invited him to join us. He was nice looking with an easy-going manner. I'm usually very shy around men, in fact I'm almost an innocent and when he paid attention to me I know I blushed. I could feel my ears burning.

I was glad to see him the next week because I liked his company. He seemed to take an interest in me, but in a strange way. It wasn't that he came on to me; he just acted real friendly. He was soon coming in on a regular basis, including last Thursday when he asked me if we could talk alone for a few minutes. I wondered what he wanted to talk about, but I said, "OK, Mike, How about over there?" and pointed to the corner booth.

We took our beers over and sat down. After some small talk, Mike told me he understood I needed money for nursing school. I had never told him about that, and it made me uncomfortable that he had been asking about me. But it was true: What I made as an office temp barely covered my tuition. It made me very uneasy, but I finally squeaked out a "Yes. I do," in reply.

According to him, I was a good-looking girl with a great body and a very pretty face. I thanked him in my most neutral manner, and began to plan a graceful exit. He quickly assured me he didn't want to sleep with me, which made me feel better. Then I thought, why not? I was half insulted. And if he didn't want my "great body" for himself, what did he want it for? Rent it to someone else? Invite me to a "bachelor party?" What did he think I was? I'm no bimbo.

"Let's cut to the chase, Mike," I said with an edge to my tone. "What are we talking about"?

He took a sip of beer, leaned back against the booth and told me about his photography business in which he took pictures on "spec" and sold them for profit. The biggest part of his business was creating specialized photos of women in exotic costumes and props for a "sophisticated" clientele. He insisted there was nothing gross about his products, no sex or nudity. In other words, I think he was telling me he sold high-class pin-ups.

"So, why talk to me?" I asked. "I'm not a model."

Mike said he saw a lot of innate sweetness in me that would show through in his photos. He explained he was looking for naturalness, and that's why he only used amateur models. What he wanted to do was take pictures of me in costume. He reassured me that not only would there be no sex, but I could even bring a friend along to watch. I was very leery of the whole thing until he told me how much I would make for four hour's work, when I began to consider the possibilities.

I'm not very good at bargaining, and I don't even know what to look for in this kind of a deal. So I just looked him in the eye and asked in my most serious manner, "There's no sex or nudity, and I can bring along a friend "? Mike stared right back at me and swore, "absolutely no sex or nudity, and you can bring a friend along." Something made me trust him, so I said I agreed be at his studio this morning at nine and I'd try it out. He wrote down the address for me and I took it and went home.

Back in my apartment, I called my friend, Irma, and asked her to go on "a special appointment" with me Saturday morning. She wanted to know what it was about, but I said I'd explain it later. Irma was reluctant to go because she didn't like the neighborhood, but I wore her down by recalling favors I'd done for her and she finally agreed to accompany me. I gave her the address and said to meet me there at 9 o'clock sharp.

I got up early this morning and spent a lot more time in the bathroom than usual. I carefully showered and shaved. I gave my hair an extra good brushing, and was most meticulous with my makeup. While I primped, I dreamed about the things I could do with the money I'd make. When I finally came out of the bathroom and looked at the clock, I was horrified. I was going to be late! I threw on my clothes, grabbed my purse and ran out the door. I don't own a car and there wasn't enough time to use a bus; I'd have to take a taxi. I ran down the stairs, my mind flipping between fretting over this unexpected "business expense" and the fear of not finding a cab at all. Out on the street, low, gray clouds hung over the city, which only added to my sense of foreboding.

After about two minutes I spotted a cab a few blocks away headed toward me. When I saw it about to turn a corner, I waved frantically until the driver saw me and turned back to pick me up. By the time I got in I was almost hyperventilating. I showed the address to the driver, who gave me a strange look and started up. Cross-town traffic was horrible. It seemed to take so long that my stomach was in a knot as I kept clenching and unclenching my fists.

I began to perspire and I thought, "Oh. My God! I'll look a mess if I don't stop this right now." I made myself relax by recalling my yoga training. I took short, deep breaths and very slowly exhaled, and I cleared my mind of vagrant thoughts by concentrating on my "middle eye," which is that spot just above the bridge of my nose. In this way I didn't notice the sort of neighborhood we were traveling into. I felt calmer when the taxi came to a stop in front of a seedy-looking warehouse on a street filled with seedy-looking warehouses. The building number I wanted was scrawled on a scrap of cardboard nailed to the front of the wooden door.

I got out and paid the driver through the window. He looked at me hesitantly as if to say something, then shrugged, mumbled "thanks" for the tip and drove off. I looked around for Irma but there was no one on the street, not even a parked car. I was alone, and starting to get anxious. It was five minutes to nine and no sign of my friend. She couldn't have gone in there without me because she wouldn't know what to look for. And she was never late. I spied a pay phone on the corner, and I rushed over to call my voice mail to see if Irma had left a message. She'd called all right - at the same time I had been dawdling in the bathroom according to the "time-stamp" on my machine. She was sick from food poisoning and couldn't leave her apartment. She was very sorry, but she hoped I would understand. Sighing, I looked in my purse for more change to call Irma back. I was stunned to find I didn't have enough for the call; now I couldn't even tell her who I was seeing this morning.

My anxieties began heating up. I was alone in this God-forsaken neighborhood, and no one knew I was here except Irma who was sick and couldn't help me. No cabs cruised down here, and it was a long walk to the bus stop, if any buses ran down here on Saturdays anyway. The lonely sound of the wind plus the dreariness of the leaden skies added to the chill wrapped around my heart. Visions of Irma identifying my corpse for the police flashed through my mind.

I tried to pull myself together. Mike expected me, and it was against my principles to stand him up. What could he possibly do harm me? My friends knew him. Irma knew the address even if she didn't know his name. What was I worried about?

"C'mon, Cathryn." I said to myself. "Don't be such a worry-wart. One day you'll look back on this and laugh." The thought gave me a sense of bravado. I took a deep breath, slowly let the air slip out between my pursed lips and pounded the side of my clenched fist against the door.

I waited a minute and pounded again. Where was Mike? And come to think of it, where was his car? Was this some kind of a joke? I had been afraid of going into this building by myself; but now I was getting angry at the thought of being stood up myself. I waited another minute, but still no response. I angrily turned away from the door and started down the steps. Just then I heard the door open and someone call my name. My heart stopped, and so did I. Turning my head around I could see Mike holding the door open. He was smiling.

I really wanted to tell him how upset I was for making me wait but I couldn't do it because I was so glad to see a friendly face. I returned his smile with a broader one, shook his hand warmly and walked into the warehouse. Inside was a small room with an empty counter along one wall and a freight elevator across from it. A ceiling fixture held a dimly lit bulb, but most of the light came through a grimy window above the door.

Mike went out onto the landing and looked up and down the street before he came back in and locked the door. Taking my arm, he led me to the ancient elevator on the far wall. Everything was old and dusty; the place gave me the creeps. I was nervous when we got on the elevator, and when Mike asked if I had brought a friend I almost panicked. I was tempted to lie and tell him she'd gone for gas and would be back soon, but I knew it wouldn't work. So I told him the truth, although I let him think Irma not only knew his name but what I was doing there. I asked where he'd left his car, and he told me he'd come over on his bike, which explained the empty street below and made me feel better.

When we stepped off the elevator the silence was eerie, the only sounds were our footsteps. Mike led me down a long corridor and I followed him timidly, wondering if anyone would hear me if I screamed. He stopped before an unmarked door near the end of the corridor, and selected a key from the ring on his belt. He unlocked the door and reached his hand around inside to turn on the lights.

He ushered me into a room about 20-feet square. Cameras and studio lights on tripods were on the right side of the room, all facing the far corner where the walls and floor had been covered with large sections of bright fabrics. Near the fabrics was a long table filled with straps and ropes that I supposed he used for making "sets." Alongside the table was a rack of clothes and in the corner his bike leaned against the wall. Mike handed me a hangar with some garments on it and told me it was my costume. Then he directed me to the changing room next door, which he said was unlocked.

I hooked the hangar over my shoulder and went out. When I got to the dressing room, I flicked on the light switch. The ceiling light was strong enough to illuminate the few furnishings in the room. A card table and metal chair had been set against the middle of the wall on my left. An old mirror with patches of silver missing hung above the table. There was a clothes tree next to the chair, and I put the hangar on it. Then I closed the door and slid the small bolt through the catch.

I took down the pieces of costume and spread them on the table. Together they formed a lovely harem outfit, and I could see it would fit me. I removed all of my clothes except my panties, and hung them on the hangar. Then I donned a pair of wine-red, velour panties and a matching bandeau. The skirt was constructed of colorful panels of rayon attached to a thin strip of leather. I tied the leather strip around my hips just above their widest part so the ends of the panels would fall below my calves. The last bit of costume, a decorative belt of connected pieces of hammered bronze, fit easily around my waist. Then I brushed back my hair, straightened my posture and walked out the door to face my new career, feeling braver already.

"I'm ready, Mike," I announced when I re-entered the studio, gingerly stepping around the cables and gadgets on the floor because of my bare feet.

"Very good, Cathryn," he replied. "Go stand over on the set so I can check the lighting."

 

I went over to the set and turned around to face him. The fabrics on the floor were soothing to my bare. Mike gave a low, approving whistle, which made me smile. He asked me strike a pose so he could check his equipment, so I created one of a harem dancer about to start her act. He said I looked "great" and told me to hold that pose while he adjusted his lighting. Soon enough the sound of a click and his "OK" told me my image had been captured on film.

 

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