He watched as Annette dressed, filament fine stockings drawn on with protective gloves as the roughness of bare fingers would ladder the knit instantly, clipped to the garters of the girdle, beige tinted elastic panels containing and lifting her, smoothing the child worn belly, hoisting her breasts and pushing her ribs down. Like a woman of his class letting herself be seen with a bare face, as an unmarried man it was another mystery Annette had initiated him into, the hooks and straps that held the daughters, mothers and wives of great men ridged backed and tight around the abdomen, each point of restraint giving just enough that the body could move, but collaborating together to hold the woman up so no muscle could let itself rest untightened or sigh and shrug could excuse a slouch.
Vitaly was braced against the heavy wooden table, buttocks separated by the intrusion of Maria’s mercifully slim arm. He was making deep, guttural noises , repetitive grunts that came out “..ut!…ut!…ut!”
Each wrist was clamped into a cuff and fixed to the opposite legs of the table, keeping Vitaly’s chest flat with the plastic covered wood. Maria’s shoulder drove her arm back and forth in a straight line, with the steady rhythm of a rock breaker.
The tawdry underpants were abandoned in a small heap on the floor, but Vitaly makeup had been refreshed, more pink and red with the subtlety and detail of a four year old’s colouring book. Phillip knew, from observation, that Maria’s hand was clenched into a fist and that minimal amounts of lubrication had allowed her to wiggle first two fingers, then her pointed hand up to her knuckles, and finally her clenched grip.
The ropes were a dirty dun colour, thin, but wound several times around his body in rippled bands so that the bite of one cord was negated by its sisters. Such comforts gave him the full ability to concentrate on the hanging weights and the cross linked cords that made each of the four men intimately connected and gave them one contact point with the ground.
His vision returned after some blinking, helped by the filtered nature of the light from the big stained glass panels along the hall. There was thick carpets and heavy bunches of flowers in blue vases, a citrus heavy scent saturating the air, another fancy home with a wife taking care of the decoration, though not as quietly opulant as the Harrington country house.
The trip had been an hour by car, with the hood on, sitting on the floor of the car with Anette’s hand on the top of his head. She’d had him dressed in new clothes, fashionable but a bit more foppish than he’d have personally chosen, and locked the hood in place, pulling tight straps on the back of his head so it pressed against his face and made it hard to move his eyes of blink.
Walks without Annette turned into jogging sessions, followed by running broken with intervals of hard exercise: push ups, stretches and crunches to keep him limber, made harder by the dark hood. Every time he adjusted to the new routine, he would hear Annette order something new to the guard that only spoke to give him an order. First there were weights on his ankles and wrists, and then one day she joined him for his daily walk with an enormous wooden yoke, with swinging buckets attached by metal chains.
One length of rope looped around his arms and wrists bound him to the yoke firmly, and held his arms out in cruciform position. Even before he saw the rocks piled up in the buckets he knew it was heavy. Two servants had brought it to Annette and dipped their heads politely before gratefully grunting the yoke to the ground and taking their leave.
Standing, Adam could walk forward at a snail’s pace, the buckets swaying slightly. Annette had the picana in her hand, its orange plastic bright, but not out of place among the countless, vibrant layers of gaudy flowers that were in bloom for late summer.
Groin tingling and oddly insensitive from the pain killers, but still distantly aware of the wrongness, Phillip knelt with his forehead pressed to the cool, rough but clean cement floor wearing nothing but a medical scrotal support. The doctor had long since left, leaving pills and instructions for Annette and not even a backwards glance for his patient.
He would have rather defied his captor, and the weight of Annette’s foot on the back of his neck was light enough he could have shrugged her off, but she was backed up by her ever present bodyguards, and a long prod she held in her right hand. She’d shown him how it worked once, on a lower setting, pain of the shock still leaving a hard cramp in his calf.
Maybe if he could catch her off guard, he thought, he could take the prod from her and hold it to her neck, or maybe find some weapon and force her guards to back down. So he listened, quietly as she spoke, hating and waiting, listening more for the pauses not the meaning of her words.