“So, are you scared of me?” asks Mistress Lucy.

She’s dressed in a pared-down nurse’s ensemble made of latex so white that it’s blinding. I’d only met her for a moment and I’m surprised how calm I feel in her presence, even as she secures me to the table with a spider’s web worth of nylon rope.

“I knew you’d ask that,” I tell her. She cinches shut the leather mittens encasing my hands. “And I wouldn’t say ‘scared’. The word I’d use is… ‘intimidated’.”

But even that word doesn’t seem to fit anymore. For the past ten minutes we’ve chatted about everything from philosophy to friendships to Mistress Lucy’s personal playlist that we’re listening to at that very moment. It makes me feel like I’ve known her for years.

Testing the ropes, I draw in a slow, deep breath; there’s enough give for that but not much else. “…and you have a reputation as someone who’s not afraid to demand what she wants.”

Obsidian eyes glance my way as I speak. “It, uh, matches your personality type,” I add.

Melancholy trip-hop vocals fill the room with diffused layers of emotion and sound. Mistress Lucy hums along with the music as she walks over to my side and snatches my nipple between her fingers. “If I’m remembering correctly, you’re quite sensitive.”

“Yes,” I squeak.

Mistress Lucy nods. “Well then, how about a trade?” she asks. “I’ll spare your nipples if you give me something I want in return.” She pinches my flesh between her thumb and forefinger.

“Okay, okay,” I say, wincing in pain. “Whatever you want!”