This time it wasn't a black Lincoln. Instead, a tan Ford Explorer drove slowly down the dirt track they called Main Street and coasted to a stop opposite the square. The vehicle was clearly at least twenty years younger than anything else moving in Temperance that morning, and the residents looked at it with a mixture of interest and apprehension. For sure, no one was happy to see it, least of all Clay, who ambled over from his office behind the Court House to see what the commotion was all about. He wasn't surprised to see who it was that had invaded his town again.
"Morning gents," he said, approaching Frank and Red who had both gotten out of their rented SUV. The two men watched the Sheriff approach them with expressionless faces.
"You fellas back for another look?" Clay asked them, a friendly smile on his face but his eyes darting about. He was looking to see if any of the 'girls' were out working, but evidently his youngest deputy had acted pretty smartly and had pulled them inside someplace where they couldn't be seen. Clay wondered if the new girl was one of them, and made a mental note to find out.
Red turned his back to the Sheriff and began a careful scan of the town, while Frank dealt with the first problem the men figured they would encounter on their return to this miserable place.
"Sheriff," he said, nodding once.
Clay stopped about four feet from them and gave them both a good looking over. As well as a change in vehicle, the strangers were both dressed differently. Gone were the suits and in their place were pants and shirts more suited to rough desert travel. They both also wore windbreakers, not something you usually saw men wearing out here. Clay was no fool, he thought about what the coats probably concealed.
"I thought we'd settled your little search last time, gents," Clay said.
"Well, Sheriff," Frank said, pulling out a cigarette and lighting it, "we haven't had much luck anywhere else. So we figured that there wasn't any harm in our coming back and asking around ourselves."
"There's no point in disturbing these folks," replied the Sheriff. "your gal probably got herself a ride out at the highway. She's most likely a thousand miles away by now."
"Oh I doubt that she's that far," Frank said, looking Clay right in the eye. He was rewarded by seeing the Sheriff twitch, and thought it promising. "You don't mind do you if we knock on a few doors, ask a few questions? We just want to be sure...gotta cover our asses; you know how it is," he smiled.
Clay returned the smile, although it was a little forced, "I wouldn't know, never having lost a prisoner like you fellas did." Now his smile was more genuine as he observed Frank's smile fading a little. "Still," he continued, "I suppose I could spare a deputy to go along with ya, to see you don't get lost."
"That won't be necessary," Frank said.
"Oh, I insist. Look around...this is a big desert and it's easy to take a wrong path and wind up someplace you shouldn't. I wouldn't want more of you fellas coming out here to look for YOU now, would I?"
Frank didn't answer for a moment, although he turned his full attention on Clay, something that usually made people rather nervous. Clay didn't seem to react, until Frank saw his hands. Clay was clenching his fists, hard. Frank smiled.
"Sure," he said, "send your deputy over, we could use a native guide."
Clay relaxed slightly, "Okay. Well then, you wait here and I'll send him out shortly. Good day to you."
As the fat sheriff walked away, Red turned to watch him. "You crazy, Moose?" Red asked, "what do we want one of his deputies along for?"
Frank turned to his friend and partner, a shit-eating grin on his face, "Having this guy along will make this a lot easier, Red, trust me."
"How do you figure that?"
"Because, all we have to do now is to see what the deputy keeps us away from, and that's where we'll look later."
Red chuckled, "Pretty smart."
Clay walked into the jail where several of his men were playing cards on one of the desks. He had a thoughtful look on his face and was wondering just who had won, him or the stranger. He'd expected a bit more resistance than he got. Still, he couldn't complain, so with a sigh he gave his orders.
"Tom, go find Will and the girls he has with him, and have him take them home," he said to one of the card players. "If the new girl is with him or out at the Yashi place, have Will get her out of town for the day, someplace out of the way."
"Sure thing, Boss," Tom said, standing up.
"After that, run out to the mine and see Sable. Tell him that there are men in town asking about the girl. Keep him informed."
"Sure Boss, no problem."
"Then what are you waiting for? Get out of here! Okay, Billy, I need you to go with the strangers. You are going to stick to them like glue. They are going to think that...well, I doubt we're going to fool those guys. But as long as you're with them then they can't make trouble elsewhere. Just help them out as they question the townfolk about the girl. But keep them away from the mine and also the Yashi place if you can. The mine for sure."
"What if someone talks to them?" Billy asked, buckling on his gun belt.
Clay looked up at his largest deputy, "Billy boy, with you standing right there, no one is going to talk. You make sure of that."
Billy smiled, "Sure thing, Clay. What are you going to do?"
The sheriff shrugged, "I got to tell the Judge."
Charlotte was already out of town. At the same moment that Frank and Red pulled to a stop in the middle of Temperance, Charlotte was alone, naked, and sitting in the middle of a slow moving stream. Her ankles and knees were bound together with short lengths of rope, and her wrists were bound behind her back. A cleave gag made from a bandana cut across her mouth, and another bandana was wrapped around her eyes completing her bondage.
She was shivering, but not from the cold. She was scared. She didn't like being alone like this, helpless and vulnerable in the middle of a stream. Even though the water was only six inches deep where she sat, she didn't feel safe. She was actually glad when her companion for the day showed up again, even though the man had put her in this position in the first place.
Early that morning, before sunrise, he had shown up at Mrs. Yashi's, and asked to take Charlotte with him for the day. The first Charlotte had known about it was when Ellen came to unlock the cuff that kept the girl from leaving her bed at night. Still half-asleep, Charlotte was escorted downstairs and into the pre-dawn air, which was when Charlotte realized that she hadn't gotten dressed yet and was nude. Like the other girls, Charlotte slept naked under her bed covers so she wouldn't mess up a dress.
No one but Charlotte apparently cared that she was naked though, for she was lifted up onto the back of a wagon where the man who had come to claim her quickly hogtied the girl with plenty of rope. Charlotte was scared to death, not knowing what was going on because it was too dark to see much of anything, but just before the cart pulled away, Ellen took Charlotte's face in her hands and looked the girl right in the eyes. "It's okay," she whispered hurriedly. Ellen's smile was the last thing Charlotte saw as the cart started moving.
They had traveled through dawn and had evidently covered some miles, for the desert gave way to a green belt, thick with trees and a meandering stream. It hadn't been a comfortable way to travel though, and her complaints had earned her the cleave gag which she still wore, while the blindfold had been added just as the sky began to brighten.
In her own private darkness, the helpless girl was hauled for miles before they finally stopped someplace near running water. Large hands pulled her from the wagon, reminding Charlotte once again how naked she was as they slid over her bare skin, and she felt herself carried downhill.
She could feel the sun on her skin, and could hear the wind blowing through trees. She felt her captor's warm body against hers and could smell the sweat on him. At first she was scared that he would drop her as they stumbled down the hill, but she soon felt how secure his grip really was and there was no mistaking the muscles under his shirt.
She wished she could see him, wished she could see anything for that matter, especially when he began to wade out into water. She got a shock when she was set down, the water cool but not cold. She panicked, thinking that she was about to drown, but in seconds realized that the water was only inches deep, even if it was moving. Her captor then rearranged her bondage, tying her legs and taking her out of the hogtie, before wading away through what sounded to Charlotte like much deeper water. Blind, she was too scared to move, and so she sat still until his return. It seemed like a long wait.
Eventually though she heard him moving about on the shore, and she tried to talk through her gag, asking what was going on. He didn't answer though and Charlotte began to wonder if he could. She couldn't recall hearing a single word from him and she wondered if it was Zachery that had her in his power. Charlotte didn't know if she was relieved or not, her judgment of Zack was still with the jury.
So she sat, facing upstream if the running water was anything to judge by, and paid attention to what was going on. The sun was definitely out, she could see cracks of bright light at the edges of her blindfold, yet there were a lot of trees about for their shade was above her. She could hear birds and occasionally the man that brought her out here, who for some reason was standing still out in the deeper water. She could feel the water running past her nude body, the gravel of the stream bottom under her butt, an odd feeling indeed, and the smell was one of green things. If it wasn't for the fact that she was naked and tied up, Charlotte might have been able to enjoy the day.
She had been sitting for a quite a while, growing stiff, when the man spoke. It surely wasn't Zack.
"You look calm now," he said in a deep baritone, "if I take that thing off your eyes, will you stay that way?"
Charlotte froze for just a second, then nodded. She sat patiently as the man waded over to her and untied the bandanna. The sun was bright and made Charlotte blink, so the man was back where he'd been standing by the time she could focus properly on him. She was surprised by who it was, for she had seen him before. It was the man with the green eyes that had kissed her on her first day street cleaning.
He was standing thigh-deep in a faster portion of the stream, dressed in brown leather pants and leather boots, his shirt hanging from a branch on shore. His outfit made him look like an Indian from a cowboy movie, and Charlotte wondered if he was part Native American or just liked to dress that way. In his hand was a home-made fishing rod, and he was looking at her in a way that made Charlotte blush.
He smiled and chuckled, "Surprised to see me?"
Charlotte tried to speak through her gag but the man waved for her to stop. "Just nod," he ordered, so she did.
"Good, I like surprises," he said, casting his line again. "My name's Rubin," he said, watching his line and not her, "and you're Charlotte, I'm told. I thought we'd spend the day together, Mrs. Yashi owed me a favor. Normally I don't bother much with you girls, but I do love a brunette." He flashed her a smile.
Charlotte wasn't sure what to think. After that kiss she had thought about this man from time to time and wondered if she would ever see him again. But she hadn't envisioned anything like this. Could he be trusted? Ellen told her it was okay, and she had been reliable so far.
Charlotte sighed and shifted in her bonds. She saw Rubin looking at her and wanted to cover up, but instead settled for waving her bound hands at him.
"You want to know why you're tied up?" he asked, making her nod. "Well, you're that way because I want you that way. I don't think that there's anything more beautiful than a helpless-looking young woman...except maybe a naked helpless-looking young woman." He grinned. "Besides, there is nothing for you to do right now anyway, so just relax if you can and I'll untie you when I'm good and ready."
Charlotte was disappointed, she wanted out now. But something about this man made her still her anger. So she sat and watched him fish, occasionally moving about as much as she dared to ward off the stiffness her position was generating. She apparently had been deposited on a gravel sand bar in the middle of the stream where it took a bend, the water running over the top of the bar just inches deep while it ran on both sides in feet. She was perfectly safe as long as she didn't move too far, and she took the opportunity to try to stretch out.
At one point she was able to lay on her side for a short while, the water running past her body from toes to head, caressing her with its passage. Like this she watched the dark-haired man with the green eyes as he lazily cast and recast his line, hardly ever looking at her. She began to have thoughts, that as captors go it was nice to have one that was good-looking. When he wasn't looking, she smiled.
Eventually though, despite the sun, she started to get cold sitting naked in the water. But with good timing Rubin finally snagged a large fish and after bringing it to shore he waded out to her.
"Okay," he said, "I think it's about time for me to untie you for a while, but first let's get a few things straight. I'm in charge, you do as I say. You try and run and you'll regret it for when I catch you I'll tie you to a tree and take a switch to your ass. Do it again and after I switch you again I'll turn you over to the Judge. He doesn't like runaways. You do as I say and you'll have a good time with me today. Got all that?"
Charlotte nodded, vowing silently not to run. He sure looked like he would have no problem catching her.
Rubin nodded and began with her gag, then her wrists, then her legs. As her bonds were taken from her, Charlotte would first rub the skin where it was deeply impressed by the ropes, and then she would gingerly try to cover herself. Rubin of course saw this and chuckled.
"You ain't got much left that I haven't seen, Charlotte," said Rubin.
Charlotte blushed and looked at her feet. She still sat in the water and didn't know if she was allowed to get up or not. She hugged herself to get warm. "Can I speak?" she risked.
Rubin said, "Sure, you're not gagged anymore."
"Thanks," Charlotte replied, "I'm cold...can I get out of the water?"
"Yep! That's why I untied you. Go ashore and start hunting up some firewood. We'll need a fire to cook lunch," he replied, gathering his fishing gear together.
Sore, yet relieved, Charlotte stood and carefully waded into the deeper water. Every step she took made her keenly aware of her lack of clothing, and of his eyes as they glanced over her body. She saw where his shirt was hanging and was tempted to go over to it and put it on. But something told her that would be a mistake. So she stumbled up onto the bank and began picking up twigs.
"No," he said, "get the dry stuff, up in the tree line."
"Sorry," she said, dropping what she had and moving further into the wooded area that followed the stream.
"Haven't you ever built a fire before?" Rubin asked her, wading ashore.
"No, Sir," Charlotte replied, her back to him. She crouched to pick up sticks, rather than bending over.
"Then I suppose you've never cleaned a fish, either."
"Then I'll show you," he replied.
It seemed rather surreal to Charlotte, for in a short while she was being taught the basics of survival: how to build a fire, how to start one. Then, using a knife he had with him, Rubin showed her how to prepare a fish for grilling. She watched all this, her mind only partly on what she was being taught. Her mind was also screaming 'I'M NAKED, I'M NAKED' while at the same time she was dealing with the fact that Rubin was indeed a very handsome man. His hair, his eyes, his build, his mannerisms, all seemed to punch the right buttons of attractiveness for Charlotte, and it served to make things even more difficult for her. Had Rubin been an unpleasant, ugly son-of-a-bitch, she would have only had to deal with her nudity. But he was so...she didn't know what, or at least wouldn't admit it to herself, and she was fighting a rising attraction for him. A part of her wondered why she was being so foolish, trying to maintain her modesty around him, while another part just couldn't let go of her moral inhibitions. She was in a dilemma and she hated it.
Things got slightly worse, in her opinion, once the fire was up and the fish was on a spit over it. Rubin sat Charlotte down on the ground next to the fire and proceeded to tie her up again. This time he bound her hands in front of her and then tied them to her crossed ankles. This forced her knees wide open and Charlotte blushed when Rubin took a long look at what they revealed before finishing her bondage. At least when done her arms somewhat obscured her sex, but she still felt open and vulnerable and she looked accusingly at him, not trusting herself to speak.
He caught her look. "Charlotte, it's not because you did something wrong, it's not to punish you," he said, "it's just because I want to, and because I think rope is the only accessory that truly brings out a woman's beauty." He moved to her and lifted her bowed head by her chin. "Okay?"
Charlotte looked him in the eyes, those bright green eyes and said, "Okay."
Rubin smiled and bent low, kissing her again. Just like the last time, Charlotte couldn't move, she was only aware of the kiss and how her entire body responded to it. When they broke she started to breath hard, and willed herself to stop. She couldn't believe the reaction she was having to this guy. Just who WAS he to make her feel like this?
Charlotte wondered if she had the guts to find out.
Rubin smiled as he stepped away, and he went and sat on a log he had placed on the other side of the fire. He didn't say another word as he tended the flames and cooked the fish, and Charlotte found herself unwilling to break the silence.
Instead, she just sat there, pulling occasionally at her bonds, aware of her nudity; her exposure in front of this man that affected her so strongly, and she hoped that embarrassment wasn't terminal.
At one point Rubin left her alone again, walking up the hill to the cart. Charlotte waited until he was far off before pulling harder at the ropes that held her, but it was no use, she couldn't pull free. So she sat and waited for his return, exactly as he had left her.
He had brought back a basket and inside was some more food: fruit, bread, and a flask of water. He looked up and grinned at her as he took these things out of the basket, "Hell, just because we CAN rough it, doesn't mean we have to!"
His smile was infectious and Charlotte caught it.
"You have a lovely smile," he said, looking at her.
"Time to eat," said Rubin, lifting the fish from the fire.
Charlotte had expected to be untied for lunch, but Rubin did no such thing. Instead he moved his log next to her and began to feed her bite by bite.
At first, Charlotte had been appalled at having to be fed from his fingers, but as they continued she relaxed and actually began to enjoy it a little. She would wait, watching him as he broke of a piece of food for her, and then take it from his fingers without touching them. It was a very intimate feeling, being fed like this, one of many that Charlotte was encountering this day. She hoped that she would be able to cope with all these new sensations.
One thing she was having a hard time with was the way he looked at her. Every time she glanced at his face, his eyes would be on her. It made her blush and look away, and she spent a lot of time looking at the ground or just at his hands. His eyes, so green, were almost hypnotizing. Yet his look wasn't one of lust, at least not pure lust. Had it been, Charlotte would have felt scared. But she no longer felt that way about Rubin, at least while they ate, although she was very sure that he liked what he saw.
She couldn't imagine why. She was still a little overweight, even though she had probably lost a few pounds over the last few days. She felt that she looked a wreck.
They hadn't talked since the meal began, but Charlotte now felt she had to break the silence.
"Why am I here?" she asked, not looking him in the face.
Rubin didn't answer right away. He ate a piece of bread first before pausing. "When I saw you sitting in front of the saloon the other day," he said, "I thought to myself that you would be someone I would like to spend some time with. You seemed so...out of your element, sitting alone cuffed to the table. Like a fish out of water." He looked at her, giving her one of his frank appraisals. "I feel much the same myself, sometimes. I don't really connect with most of the folks in Temperance. Most of my time I spend on my own, but looking at you I wondered..."
"Wondered what?" Charlotte urged.
He slowly shook his head, "It's not important now. But I'm glad I brought you here, do you know why?"
"Well, apart from the fact that you look beautiful as hell in my ropes, you also know when not to talk." He gave her a meaningful look and Charlotte guessed correctly that discussion time was over. So she just smiled at the compliment and tried not to blush again.
Rubin chuckled, "Good girl. Let's finish up the food." He continued to feed her until it was all gone, and then untied her hands and feet. "Clean up," he ordered.
Charlotte was glad to be able to move again, but she felt nervous once more under his gaze as she moved around their fire, picking up trash and putting things away. She was aware that his eyes never left her body and she was getting confused as to what she thought about that.
Clean up didn't take long though and once done, Rubin got up. "Do you swim?" he asked her.
"Yes, Sir," answered the girl
He smiled, "Good."
Ten minutes later they started walking along the stream. The reason it took ten minutes was because Rubin had first taken some rope and used it to tie Charlotte's hands behind her. He had also looped a length of it around her neck and now used it as a leash. He walked in front of her, barefoot after removing his boots, and led her downstream holding onto the other end of the rope.
Charlotte felt undignified, getting guided along like this. She felt like some sort of slave girl getting pulled along by some brute with carnal intentions. But upon reflection she wondered if that was Rubin's plan all along: the bondage, the orders, the menial tasks, the...way he had fed her. It all pointed towards Charlotte being placed in a submissive role, and Charlotte felt herself responding to it. She didn't feel that she was the submissive type though, at least she hadn't been in the past. Yet she couldn't deny...much...that she was attracted to the man. Was it because of the way he was treating her? He DID seem to dominate the space around them, and to make himself the focus of her attention. He also had a way with her that she couldn't explain. As Charlotte stumbled along she tried to figure out what was happening, but couldn't. It was all a bit beyond her right now.
So she followed, as if she could do anything else, while Rubin led her downstream. For a while they had to wade in the water itself, then he led her away from the stream a short distance and down another hill. When they came out of the trees they had dropped down maybe thirty feet and so had the stream. It was now cascading down in a short waterfall onto some boulders that lay scattered about a deep pool of water. High walls of granite surrounded them on all sides, except where the stream continued on, cutting its way into the stone on the far side of the pool.
"Nice isn't it?" Rubin said, undoing the rope around Charlotte's neck.
"Beautiful!" she exclaimed, meaning it.
Rubin nodded and untied her hands. "You can go anywhere you like," he said, "as long as you stay here in the bowl. Swim, lie in the sun, I don't mind. Just relax and have fun. I'm sure it's been a while since you did so."
"Thank you," she said, rubbing her wrists and turning to face him, "you're very kind."
"But a little strange, huh?" he asked with a grin. He chuckled as Charlotte didn't answer right away. "Don't worry about it, I know I am." He started to leave but was stopped by the naked girl.
"Where are you going?" she asked nervously. "Aren't you staying?"
"I'll be back. I just need to go move the wagon. You'll be fine. Just be here when I get back or there will be trouble."
His words, at least the last few, made her look down again, a tinge of fear in her heart. She felt that running would not be a good idea at all, even though a part of her had briefly considered the idea. She put those plans aside.
Rubin looked at her once more, standing nude before him, hands at her side, head bowed, and he liked what he saw. He knew his tastes were a little weird, at least compared to a lot of the people of Temperance, but to have a girl respond the way this one did was precious to him. He actually had a hard time pulling himself away from her, but he had to go check on the horse and bring the wagon closer. So without another word, he began the long walk back.
Frank, Red, and the big deputy named Billy, had spent most of the morning going door to door, the strangers talking to everyone they could find. They showed a picture of Charlotte that Frank had brought along, but each person they met just shook their heads and said they hadn't seen her.
Sometimes, Frank noticed, they would look at Billy before answering, as if searching for the right answer, and Frank knew that was one reason the deputy was along. From the reactions some of these people had to the photo, Frank knew that at least a few of them had seen Charlotte, but they were hiding it for some reason. Why, he didn't know, and he thought it was dumb. If they had been smart, he reasoned, they would have admitted that Charlotte had indeed been through here and that she had gotten a ride with someone out of town. Frank would have bought that, as worried as he was about that very possibility. But all this evasiveness told him that she was still here...somewhere.
There had been one interesting thing though. At one point in their
travels, Frank had pointed at one of the tracks leading out of town and
asked Deputy Billy if anyone lived along it. Billy had said no, so
Frank asked if there was anything on the road at all. Again Billy said
no, which was when Frank knew he was being lied to again. Frank had
spent the last few days trying to find out about Temperance. He hadn't
been able to dig up much, but what he had found out was puzzling. The
town wasn't supposed to exist anymore. It was no longer on the State
records, was not on any modern map, it was supposed to be dead. Sure
it had been a real town once, but it had officially died more than fifty
Frank, however, had pulled one fancy piece of information off the internet though. There was a company that sold satellite pictures of almost any spot on the globe, and he had been lucky in that they had been able to take a picture of the town for him. It didn't show much detail, he hadn't expected to find Charlotte with it, but it had given him a map of the town itself, including what was at the end of the road that Billy said was empty. Frank didn't know what was there, the photo just showed a cluster of buildings near some cliffs, but it was certain that he wasn't supposed to know anything about it.
As Billy led them to their next interview, Frank smiled and made plans for their night's activities.
Rubin stopped just within the treeline and searched the pond with his eyes. He had just brought the wagon over from his favorite fishing spot, and was eager to rejoin his companion for the day. He frowned though, for she was nowhere to be seen, and for a second he feared she hadn't heeded his warnings and had actually run off. But then, there was a splash out in the middle of the pool, and a mahogany head and creamy white shoulders emerged from the water.
Rubin watched as the nude figure swam slowly around for a few minutes before climbing up on one of the huge boulders that lay scattered around like toy blocks. Rubin had a special weakness for brunettes, especially for those who weren't living skeletons. Some women, he thought, go just too far in their quest to be thin. When he stroked a woman's flesh, he liked to feel muscle, not bone.
Charlotte was such a woman, although he was sure that she thought herself too heavy to be attractive. It was true that she could use some toning up, but living here in Temperance as one of the Judge's 'girls' would certainly take care of that. But he hoped that she wouldn't end up losing any real weight. He wouldn't care for that.
He continued to watch as Charlotte sat on the boulder, wringing out her wet hair and throwing it back. She leaned back on her arms, her long legs extended before her, and let the sun dry her body, a thoroughly sexy posture. Rubin smiled, enjoying what he saw. He resumed his walk.
Charlotte didn't see him coming, but she heard him when he reached the sandy edge of the pond. With a start she sat up and curled up, frightened because of her nudity. Then she saw who it was and felt a little silly, after all, what could she hide from him?
"You're back," she said, thinking herself an idiot as soon as the words were out of her mouth. Of COURSE he was back!
"That I am," Rubin replied with a smile.
Charlotte watched him. He was still barefoot and dressed in only his leather pants...which he was untying as she watched.
"Er..." she said, suddenly feeling afraid again, a thousand thoughts cascading through her mind, none of them reassuring, yet not all of them scary. She couldn't tear her eyes from him as he slipped off his pants, revealing that he wore nothing under them. Her eyes gravitated to his crotch but she forced herself to look away. She could feel her heart beating hard inside her chest.
She heard a splash and looked back. Rubin had entered the water and was slowly swimming over to her.
"The water feels really good," he said, treading water nearby.
"Yeah, it's great," she answered nervously.
"Come on in!" Rubin called, smiling at her.
Charlotte hesitated, then she shuffled off her rock and into the cool water. At least this way she was covered up, but still she was very aware that they were naked in the water together. She knew she was aroused, she couldn't mistake those feelings, but she didn't know if that was a good thing or not. This guy WAS keeping her prisoner, as well as everyone else in the town. He had tied her up several times, denied her any privacy, fed her like a pet...and yet, he had been nothing but kind to her throughout all of that, never putting her down or threatening her. She didn't count his warnings about her escaping. She knew that he liked her, and she knew she liked him. So what was the problem?
The problem, she thought, was that here she was stuck naked with this guy with no say about what was happening to her. Charlotte was used to having a bit more say in her relationships; yet Rubin made it plain that he was the one calling all the shots. Would he now call this one? What were his intentions? All of this and more screamed through Charlotte's head as Rubin swam over to her.
He stopped a couple of feet before her and the two treaded water in silence for a few minutes, watching each others' faces. Then Rubin began to move closer, until they were separated by just a foot, and then inches.
Charlotte felt a deep flush flow through her body at the presence of this MAN, something she had never felt so intensely before. It sent a tingle all through her body and despite the cool water she felt hot. When he reached out and touched her side under the water, she gave an involuntary chirp. When he used both hands to draw her to him, she sighed and gave in.
Night had fallen a short while before, but darkness was banished by the light from the bonfire Rubin had built on the shoreline. Flames rose several feet above the carefully constructed pyre, and a fierce, steady crackle could clearly be heard as the living fire consumed its fuel.
Charlotte had a front row seat...well, stand actually, from her position. She stood between two trees, her arms stretched out to either side of her, bound there by rope so she couldn't bring them down. Her legs were also bound wide apart, forcing her to expose herself. Her cleave gag was back on, but she wasn't blindfolded for which she was glad. Physically, she was in as vulnerable a position as she had ever been in her life, but oddly enough she didn't feel that way. Sure, she was scared, but she had felt a lot worse when she was with Clay and his deputies in what seemed like eons ago. There she feared for her virtue, if not her life. Here she feared for...she didn't know. It certainly wasn't her virtue if their afternoon's activities were anything to go by. In the water, on a boulder, on the edge of the shore. Under the warm sun and a warmer body, it had been an afternoon of blissful pleasures punctuated by orgasmic highs and restrained terror. Rubin had turned out to be a careful, yet dominating lover. Their first time they had met almost as equals, taking pleasure from each other once Charlotte had overcome her reservations and just surrendered to her attraction for him. But after that Rubin definitely took charge, and she only minded slightly when he bound her hands behind her for the rest of their trysts. It had been frustrating for sure, not being able to hold him, and terrifying in a way, being at his mercy sexually. But there was no denying that he had a certain talent at giving pleasure, one that made her forget that she no longer had the use of her arms. Charlotte couldn't stop smiling all afternoon.
In between they swam and cavorted in the water, just playing like children before coming together as adults. It was as carefree an afternoon as it could be. Charlotte couldn't remember the last time she'd had one like it.
But then as dusk began to show itself, Rubin brought her to shore and tied her between these two trees. Charlotte wondered if he was going to take here where she stood, but instead he left her alone and began building his bonfire. She would have called out to him if it hadn't been for the gag, not that she wasn't able to. But she had learned that the gag meant silence, whether she could actually make noise or not.
So she just stood and watched him, her passion cooling off as the sky grew darker, her concern growing.
Now she felt the heat from the flames, and the occasional hot ash drifting in the light breeze. She hoped that the fire wasn't going to start a blaze in the trees around them.
Rubin, she saw, had been sitting with his back to her, working on something she couldn't see. He was still naked, and in the light from the fire his muscles stood out and his skin glowed yellow.
He finally stood, leaving a small box on the sandy gravel where he had been sitting. He turned to face her and Charlotte gasped. He had used some kind of paint to draw a symbol on his chest. She didn't recognize it at all, but it looked primitive, primal. She held her breath as Rubin stood motionless, hands at his sides, staring at her, and only breathed again once he turned away. He picked up something else from a pile of stuff he had brought down from the wagon, and began tapping on it with an open hand. It was a drum. In the light from the fire Charlotte could see that it was made of wood and covered with a real stretched skin.
Rubin began beating the drum and dancing, the steps forming a definite pattern as he made his way around the fire. He began to chant something that Charlotte couldn't catch, his deep voice guttural and rhythmic. Charlotte watched in fascination as he conducted his ritual, for that was what it looked like to her, dancing naked around the flames, his muscles shiny with sweat, his penis hard and straight, the strange design on his chest.
She wondered what was happening and wondered if she should be afraid. She found it hard to reconcile this behavior with the man she had been making love to just a few hours before.
At one point he stopped to pull a pointed stick from the flames. He brought it over to her and waved the glowing end around her body. Charlotte was frightened and for a few seconds she pulled hard at the ropes that bound her spread between the trees. But when it became obvious that Rubin wasn't going to burn her she smiled and settled down. At that point she realized that he wasn't going to harm her, that this was just something strange that he enjoyed.
After waving the stick around he planted it in the ground between her legs, hot end up. The tip of the stick was only inches away from her sensitive lower lips and again Charlotte was concerned, but the hot wood came no closer and she relaxed.
Rubin smiled and went back to his drumming, dancing once more around the fire like a primitive man from a time long past. Charlotte, now that she knew she was safe, allowed herself to follow the chant, to immerse herself in the rhythm of the drum. She didn't have to close her eyes to imagine herself the captive of some primitive tribe, her clothes torn from her, stripped and prepared for some native sacrifice. She imagined herself as an explorer, taken by the very people she had discovered in some dark corner of the forgotten world, and about to pay the ultimate price for her curiosity. She looked at Rubin as he danced and could easily see him as the ruler of such a tribe. The biggest, the strongest, the Alpha male. HE would be the one to take her. HE would be the one to assert himself over her. To HIM would fall the duty of punishing her, after first proving his manhood with her helpless, naked body.
It was easy to get lost in such a fantasy.
Then Rubin changed his pattern. As he came around to her side of the fire he ran forward and grabbed the stick he had planted between her legs. The first time he did so he brought it up and made a show of rubbing the now dark and charred end with his thumb, showing her that it was no longer hot enough to burn. Then, using it like a big pencil, he drew a line on her body, right below her breasts.
Charlotte squealed into her gag and pulled back, but Rubin simply replanted the stick and moved on. Charlotte took a couple of quick breaths and looked down. She could see a dark line of charcoal across her body, but there was no feeling of being burnt. The stick had still been hot, yes, but it didn't hurt her.
She didn't have much time to reflect on this because as Rubin came around again he drew another line on her. Each time he came around he did this, until Charlotte saw that he was drawing an identical pattern on her as the pattern on his own body.
Then the drumming and the chant stopped, and Rubin stood in front of her. He raised his arms high in the air and yelled, a primeval yell that sent shivers down Charlotte's spine.
He then looked right at her.
Charlotte was caught in the gaze of those very green eyes and she felt herself suddenly become very aroused. At that moment Rubin became everything masculine that Charlotte had ever wanted and she responded to him in the most basic way a woman could. She could do nothing to stop his advance upon her, not that she wanted to anyway, and when he took her she was ready.
Their cries echoed back and forth among the cliffs that surrounded them and drifted off into the night.
Frank parked the Explorer behind a big boulder, out of sight of the buildings he knew were there somewhere.
"We'll walk from here," he said, and Red nodded.
Both took out handguns and checked them over in the dark, before putting them away and grabbing two flashlights. They got out of their SUV and stood listening to the night.
"It's damn quiet out here, Moose," Red said.
Frank grinned, "You missing the sound of traffic, Red?"
"Yeah. I may have been born a peasant on some farm outside of Moscow, but that doesn't mean I like being out here in the country."
"You, a peasant? I always figured there was some of that in you."
"Hey, watch your mouth, Moose. Just because you're my boss, doesn't mean you can insult me," Red grinned.
Frank chuckled and then turned on his game face, "Let's go. I want to see what those buildings are for, and why we were kept away from them."
The two men moved silently through the darkness, Frank using his flashlight sparingly when the light from the partial moon wasn't enough to illuminate their path. They sneaked around the rocks until they could make out the boxy shapes of the buildings Frank had discovered on the satellite photo. It was too dark to make out any details.
"We'll have to get closer," Frank whispered.
"Right behind you, Moose," Red replied.
They crept out from their cover and began to cross an open area between them and the nearest building. That was their big mistake. Halfway across, several flood lights suddenly came on and both Frank and Red were blinded. They heard the sound of men running all around them and both city men pulled their weapons, even though they couldn't see.
"DROP THOSE GUNS OR WE'LL SHOT YOU DEAD WHERE YOU STAND!" yelled a voice from a bull-horn.
"Fuck you!" Red yelled, raising his handgun and firing a shot toward the lights.
Immediately fire was returned and the ground around both men was peppered
Flashes revealed that all around them were men with guns, lots of guns. Frank and Red weren't stupid, they knew when they were outclassed. They both immediately dropped their weapons and put their hands on their heads. The gunfire ceased.
"GOOD MOVE, BOYS. MOVE AGAIN THOUGH AND MY MEN WON'T AIM TO MISS!"
Frank and Red stood back to back, their eyes finally adjusting to the bright lights. They saw about two dozen men, most of whom were armed, standing in a circle around them. Several of them moved forward and one of them was carrying the bull-horn. He stopped where both men could see him, hands on his hips. "My name's Sable," he said, "this is my place and you're trespassing. I hope you liked what you saw because I doubt you're going to see much else for a long time. Tomorrow you go see the Judge, and right after that you come back here and then you're mine." He turned to one of his own men, "Take them away!"
Frank gritted his teeth as one of the men grabbed his arms and handcuffed them behind his back. He couldn't believe he had been so stupid. But he had confidence that he would be able to get out of this, after all, he was used to getting what he wanted.
With confident smiles, he and Red were taken away.