Extracurricular Activities – 2. Basics Of Bondage


Few people understood the difficulties and the complexities of praxis quite as well as painfully shy introverts. Coming up with theories, no matter how elaborate, is always very easy. Putting them into practice, however, is anything but. In Viv’s case, this was especially true when it came to conversations. It was the easiest thing in the world to formulate an entire conversation in her head, with all of its possible outcomes. But no matter how perfect the theory, the mere perspective of putting it into practice inevitably kicked her stress levels up a couple of notches. At least, her anxiety medication had made it so that it wouldn’t be bad enough to block her. Not completely, at least.

Not completely. But it could still stall her.

And that’s how Viv ended up quietly staring at the back of a girl’s head for the better part of an hour. That in itself was embarrassing enough, but in addition she was supposed to be paying attention to the teacher during that hour. Fortunately, Mr Nemecek was, as usual, too engrossed in his lecture to notice one of his students lost in her thoughts.

All through the week, Viv had imagined a few stratagems to get that girl’s name. She had considered, for instance, asking Mr Nemecek. She had imagined a perfect excuse, one involving a lost smartphone, and trying to find her original owner, which she could describe but not name. But Viv had then thought this would be a form of cheating, as she was clearly supposed to ask the girl directly; she had never cheated on her homework or her exams before, and that was a streak she intended to keep going. Finally, she had decided that the only way to get the job done would be the direct one. Easier said than done, predictably. And thus, she had stalled.

Now, there were only a couple of minutes before the end of class… and the weekend. Which meant that Viv would not see What’s-Her-Name-Literally until next Monday. Which meant that on Sunday, she would have to tell Nova that she had failed her assignment. That did not sit well by her.

Gah! This is stupid. Why even bother with a plan anyway? I can just walk up to her and introduce myself. People do that. Right? I think they do. Some people have done that to me. I mean, it made me really anxious because I never know how to behave with complete strangers but… That’s just me. Those are my issues. I mean, unless she’s got social anxiety too. It’s not uncommon. Oh, shoot. What if I trigger her anxiety? I hate it when it happens to me.

Viv wished then, as she had done many times before, that in addition to her anti-anxiety medication, she had been prescribed with a pill that could give her the push she needed to take a step forward. This was something she had discussed with her therapist. Why hadn’t such a drug been invented yet? A pill that would help one will oneself through life. A will-pill, they could call it. Her therapist had told her that, even if such a miraculous drug had been conceived, she would be reluctant to prescribe it to her patients, as she feared the risk of psychological dependency would be very high. Viv had conceded that she had a point.

Instead of a drug, Viv’s therapist had given her a trick. Not a magic trick, just a little something that would help her take initiatives. Viv took a deep breath, then expired. Again, in and out. And a third time. Then, right after Mr Nemecek finished his lecture and wished everyone a good weekend, she stood up from her seat and approached the girl.

She was a petite woman, much like Viv, about five feet six tall and weighing maybe a hundred pounds, but with a more athletic figure. Her naturally copper-colored hair, falling in waves just past her neck, was dyed green at the tips. She was undeniably beautiful, with a small celestial nose, two light blue eyes, and freckles all over her cheeks. Her pointy ears and her eyes shaped like almonds, as well as the discrete green hue of her skin indicated that she was at least partly Dryad. But what had really caught Viv’s eye the first time she saw her was her jewelry. She usually wore a lot of it: three pendants around her neck, four bracelets on her wrists, and at least a half-dozen rings on her fingers. There was no apparent theme or style to them: some were gold, some were silver, at least one of them was made out of bones. Overall a bit cluttered, but not in a bad way, in Viv’s opinion.

“Um, hi,” Viv said.

So far so good.

“Oh, hi!” the girl said. She had a musical, high-pitched voice; Viv had been told this was also common among Dryads.

“I’m Viviana Zhang,” she said, stumbling a little on the second part of her first name. “People just call me Viv.”

“Nice to meet you.” She smiled brightly and offered her hand. “I’m Clara Leannan. Well, my real name’s Claribel, but I prefer Clara.”

“Oh, okay.” Viv shook her hand and returned her smile. Mission accomplished. Err… So what now? Do I just say goodbye and leave? Wouldn’t that be weird, seeing as I just said hello?

“Umm…”

“Did you want something?” Clara said.

“I, no, I just… I just wanted to introduce myself. Um, seeing as we’re in the same course.”

“That’s cool.” It was? Viv breathed easier. “Hey, aren’t we also both in that Creative Writing class?”

“Oh, that’s right, yeah.”

“I love that class!” Clara said, folding her school laptop and sliding it in its bag. “Although the teacher is a bit uptight. Don’t you think so?”

“I guess…” The teacher for that course was Mrs Oliveira. She was a woman in her late sixties, possibly her early seventies, rather prim and austere in her style of teaching.

“She criticized your short story in Wollstonecraft style for “bordering on erotic”.” Clara airquoted the last part.

Oh, right. Viv had forgotten about that. Unfortunately, she had decided to do this assignment in the midst of reading both Mary: A Fiction -which was assigned reading for the class- and Larazel and Solveig -which was decidedly not. As a result, her writing style had absorbed both influences, and the final product was not quite Victorian. In spite of that issue, and the embarrassment it had created in Viv, she had received a good grade for it.

“Well, I suppose it kinda was…” she said.

“No, it was great!” Clara said. “I mean, sure, the part with Emery and Jameson was a bit risqué, but it’s nothing that would make my grandma blush.”

Viv scratched the back of her neck. Oh boy, that part. It was supposed to be a standard scene between two characters, where they both express their feelings in a typical Victorian romantic way. Viv was still not sure why it had turned out the way it had. This was actually a recurring phenomenon in her writing: she would start a story with a decently clear idea of how it would go, and very often, as she wrote along, it would progressively follow a very different direction, one she often did not anticipate.

“Wait, um, you’ve read it?”

“Sure!” Clara said. “I loved it. I found your characters so… alive!”

Viv blushed, but for once, it wasn’t out of embarrassment.

“Oh, we should go,” Clara said, noticing that almost everyone else had left the classroom.

“Right.” Viv grabbed her own computer and put it away. “Well, it was nice to meet you.”

“You too. Oh, can I get your phone number?”

“Huh? Um, sure.”

Clara pulled out her smartphone, while Viv put on her AR glasses and sent her her number. She saw the other girl add her as a contact, and did the same when she sent her a message.

“Cool,” Clara said as she headed out. “You seem fun. We should hang out sometimes.”

“Okay,” Viv said.

As soon as Clara was out of sight, Viv took a deep breath. Well, this had gotten better than she had feared. Then again, that was true for most things, especially social interactions. Speaking of the latter, there was one last such interaction she had to go through before she was officially on weekend. She reached into her contact list, and chose the second name from the top -ordered by favorites-, right after “Mom”.

“Yo, sis!” Manny’s voice said in her earphones. “Done with your classes?”

“Yes. Where are you?”

“Near the field. How was your day?”

“Fine, I guess.”

“Did you do anything fun?” Manny asked.

“It’s school,” she reminded him.

“It’s college,” he corrected. “Fun’s part of the deal.”

“Well… I think I met someone.”

“You think you met someone? You worried it might be a hallucination? Did anyone else interact with him?”

Viv tutted. Her brother never missed an opportunity to tease. She understood it was his way of showing affection; he did the same thing to Christopher. Still, it was sometimes very annoying.

“Her, actually,” she said. She mentally slapped herself. With Manny, that was always the wrong thing to say.

“Really?” he said. “Is she cute?”

Every time. “No, she’s very ugly. And old. Also, her breath smells like she eats dead cats for dinner.”

Manny guffawed. “For someone who likes to tell stories, you sure ain’t a good liar, sis. What’s her name?”

“Clari- Clara.”

“Doesn’t ring a bell… Whatever. Good on you for making a new friend, Viv.”

“Well, we’re not friends. I mean, not yet. We’ve just met.”

“Right, but you want to be friends with her,” Manny said. “Don’t you?”

Viv hesitated. Was that what she wanted? To be friends with her? Viv wasn’t sure she had looked at her the way one normally looked at friends. But she wasn’t… Well, she wasn’t certain that she was… Wait, but what about Clara herself? Maybe being friends was all she wanted. Or did she even want that? She had mentioned wanting to hang out with Viv, but that could have meant anything. Or nothing at all. Maybe she had just said that to be polite? Like when Viv would say “I’ll think about it” when it came to something she did not want to do.

She shook her head. She was doing it again. Her therapist had warned her against that, that tendency of hers to think too far ahead, to put the cart before the horses. A particular -and particularly stressful- form of overthinking. One thing at a time, she reminded herself. For now, Viv had barely met Clara. As to the rest, she would only think about it when it would happen, and not a moment sooner.

“You still there, sis?”

“Oh, uh, yes,” Viv said. “Yes, yes, I want to be friends with her. I think. I mean, she seems nice.”

“There you go. Anyway, you ready to go home?”

“Huh-uh. Meet you in the carpark?”

“Right on.”

About twenty minutes later, both siblings were in Manny’s Chevrolet Blazer. That car had been gifted to him as a reward for making it into Berkeley. The outside was still brand new, minus one mean little scratch on the rear bumper; he claimed not to remember how it got there. The inside, however, already showed signs of use, mostly in the form of crumbs and dirt on the carpets. Looking at her feet, Viv also spotted a few forgotten items: a can of body spray, a half-empty bottle of Coke (which, judging from the stains, was not closed properly), and a piece of cloth. Intrigued, Viv picked up the latter. Did Manny change shirts after training? No, that wasn’t a shirt; it was much too small and the material was wrong. It actually looked like a pair of-

“Oh, so that’s where she left them,” Manny said.

“Oh, ew, ew, ew, EW!” Viv said, throwing it in the back of the car. “That is so disgusting, Manuel!” Much like their mother, Viv pretty much only called him by his full name when she was angry or upset.

“Chill out, they’re just panties.”

Worn panties!” Viv shuddered. “I can’t believe you’d do that here. Wait… Don’t tell me it happened…” She pointed at her seat.

“What? Ah, no, we did it in the back. Not enough space on the front seats.”

Viv groaned. Manny laughed.

“Don’t be like that, sis. There’s nothing wrong with sex. Someday, you’ll find out. Actually… What happened last Saturday?”

“Huh? What do you mean?”

“Ah, come on. You really think I wouldn’t notice you and Nova ditching us at the restaurant? Well, actually, I didn’t until Jacinda and Chris told me. But still. What did you crazy kids do?”

“Nothing! We talked, that’s all.”

Manny had a dubious expression.

“It’s true,” Viv said. “You really think I… I mean, I just met her!”

“Yeah, I guess it’s true you’re not that kind of person.”

Manny thankfully dropped the matter. Still, Viv turned away, convinced she was seconds away from turning as red as a tomato. The thought of her meeting with Nova next Sunday had just creeped back in her mind. If there was something she could certainly not stop overthinking about, it was definitely that. She had gotten herself lost in speculation as to what the next private lesson would consist of quite a few times over the past week, especially when she was working on her “homework”. It didn’t help that her only hint was that there would be -well, there might be– touching this time, and that her imagination had a preternatural ability to fill the blanks in some very colorful ways.

Curiously enough, unlike the other whirlpools of overthinking she often found herself caught in, she never felt in any hurry to extract herself out of that particular one. While others filled her with a cold sensation of dread, this one filled her with that strange warmth she had experienced during the first lesson. A warmth she enjoyed, but which at the same time frustrated her. It was hard to explain: it was pleasing, but not quite pleasing enough, as if something was missing. Viviana compared it to a novel ending on a cliffhanger: there was a buildup, a crescendo, but no payoff.

She had some idea what that feeling was of course. Viv was not completely ignorant in matters of sex -although she was hardly an initiate either. She had felt arousal before, though not very often. More recently, this had happened while she was doing some research for the first part of her homework. But this particular feeling was different than that; more powerful, more tenacious. Usually, it would dissipate within moments, but in this case, it could hold her for hours at a time. Why? She couldn’t say. It was an enigma, and unsolved enigmas, to Viv, were like honey to a fly. She had to know. She had to understand.

Should she bring up that subject with Nova? Yes, she probably should. Nova would probably know to help her with that problem. And it was the most normal thing in the world for a student to ask questions to her teacher.

“You look antsy,” Manny said. “What are you thinking about?”

“My, uh, my guitar lesson tomorrow,” Viv replied, dodging his gaze.

“Don’t worry about it, you’re gonna knock it out of the ballpark.”

“Thanks.”

Of course, this was a lie. In actuality, Viv was always looking forward to her guitar lessons. It was true that she used to anticipate them, like she anticipated almost everything, but after six years of practice, they had become an ordinary part of her life, much like school. Even changing teachers after the previous one had retired barely even registered as a cause for concern to her.

She spent her Friday evening like she spent all Friday evenings -and Saturday evenings, and Sunday evenings-: behind her AR glasses, reading, browsing the Internet, and writing, until it got late. Same went for her Saturday morning. When two P.M. rolled by, she turned on the family’s laptop, and launched the videoconference with her guitar teacher.

Her teacher was a man named Mahir Tawfiq. From what Viv had read about him online, he was once a member of a popular punk rock band. He had a rather colorful life -including a couple of stints in prison-, until he suddenly quit, settled down with a teaching job, got married, and had three children. Despite looking nothing like the young rebel he used to be, with his white dress shirt and his pair of beige pants, Mahir’s appearance still showed hints of this past life, from his uncovered tattoos, to his scars, to the broken shape of his nose, to the marks left by a wide range of former piercings all over his face. His heritage, both cultural and genetic, was also quite a story, as he was half-Middle Eastern, one-quarter Caucasian, and one-quarter African-American, and he also had both Elven and Orcish ancestry. He had an almost bald head, covered only by five thin cornrows of dark brown hair, and a small mustache in a slightly lighter color.

“Have you been practicing since our last lesson?” he asked Viv in his raspy, countertenor voice.

“Yes si- err, yes, Mahir.”

During every single lesson, without fail, Viv would inadvertently call him sir at least three or four times, and every time, Mahir would remind her to call him by his first name.

“Good. You might be the only one of my students I believe when they tell me that. Now, let’s try the last exercise from our previous lesson.”

She nodded, and held up her guitar. Her hands found their marks over the strings, and she began playing the first measures of 74-75 by The Connells. She was relieved to see that she had learnt from her previous mistakes, and hit all the right chords this time around. There were still some issues with her tempo, as she slowed down a little during certain parts, but it was overall fine.

When she finished, Mahir nodded.

“You have made some progress,” he said. “Your technique is almost flawless now.”

But… Viv immediately thought. And, indeed, a “but” came soon after.

“That’s kind of the issue, actually. Your songs are very much on the technical side. Do you understand what I’m saying?”

“I-I don’t, actually.”

“You play these tunes like…” Mahir licked his lips. “Like it’s a test. Pull this string, use this chord, you’ll get a good grade. It doesn’t feel like your heart’s in it.”

Viv deflated. “I’m sorry.”

“It’s nothing to be sorry about,” he said. “Just something to work on. Music is art, and art is passion. Even if you just play for fun.”

“I see.” But actually, she wasn’t sure she did.

“How about this? Find a song you like, and play it.”

“But… I don’t think I can do that,” Viv said, a coldness creeping up her back.

“Why not?”

“It’s just, well, the songs I like are not really beginner level.”

“Neither are you, Viv. You’ve been learning for six years now.”

“I know, I just-”

“… Don’t feel confident about your abilities?” Mahir said.

Her shoulders dropped. “Yeah, no, I guess I don’t.”

“Well, I’m afraid that’s not something I can help you with. Look, Viv, you’ve already accomplished a lot. You’ve got an excellent sense of rhythm, you learn quickly, and as I said you have a good technique. There’s just this one hurdle keeping you from becoming a great guitar player.”

Viv looked down at her guitar, not knowing what to answer. Mahir breathed out, and said:

“Let’s practice some more. How about some Jerry Cliff?”

“Okay.”

The lesson went on. Viv tried to focus her mind on her playing, and away from her teacher’s remark. She was mildly successful, which was still better than how she usually fared with criticism. What Mahir had said was pushed to the back of her mind, while normally the negative things she heard would occupy the entirety of it. Viv gave a small, sarcastic prayer for small miracles.

After their hour was up, Viv and Mahir scheduled their next lesson to two weeks later, said their goodbyes, and disconnected. Viv put her guitar away, put the laptop back in her mother’s study, and retreated back to her room. 

A few hours later, she received a notification. Clara had sent her a message.

 

Clara: Just checking if this works.

Viv smiled as she replied:

Viv: It does. Hi Clara.

Clara: Cool! So what are you doing?

Viv: Nothing much. What about you?

Clara: Sitting on my butt in my backyard being bored mostly.

Viv: You live in a house?

Clara: Yup. Big old house in Walnut Creek, right near the forest.

 

As Viv pondered her reply, Clara sent another message:

 

Clara: Can I call you? I kinda hate texting.

 

Viv hated that she started feeling anxious just reading that. She also hated that she had reflexively glanced at her mirror to check if she looked okay, just in case Clara had meant a videocall. Taking a deep breath, she texted back an “OK”, and waited nervously. Despite fully expecting it, she still jumped when the call rang in her earphones.

“Hello?”

“Hey, Viv! So where were we? Oh, right. I live in Walnut Creek with my aunt, my grandpa, and my two cousins. And you?”

“I live in an apartment with my mom in San Jose.”

“Got any siblings?”

“Just my brother, Manny.”

“I’ve got a brother too,” Clara said. “Martin. He’s studying business administration in Germany. Does your brother go to Berkeley too?”

“Yeah. He’s in the baseball team, actually.”

“Wait, that rings a bell… Tall guy, black hair, brown eyes? Plays pitcher?”

“That’s him.”

“Oh yeah, he asked me out some time ago.”

Every. Time. Unlike his sister, Manny was definitely not the introverted type, especially not when it came to the fair sex. In the few months since the beginning of the year, he had already managed to get something of a reputation on campus.

“Did you, um…” Viv mumbled. Wait, no. Why would she ask that? She didn’t want to know. Did she? No, no. It was none of her business.

“I turned him down,” Clara said nonchalantly.

“Oh,” Viv said. She breathed out. Had she been holding her breath?

“Told him I was batting for the other team,” the other girl added. “He didn’t find my wordplay as funny as I did.”

“Oh,” Viv said again.

“Is… that a problem?” Clara asked.

“Uh? No. No, no, no. No, no.” Darn it Viv, one “no” is enough. “Actually, err, I mean, of course it’s not a problem.”

“Okay,” Clara said, chuckling.

A part of Viv wanted to tell her that it was actually sort of the opposite of a problem, but she didn’t have the guts to say that. It would only serve to make things more complicated, she decided. Let’s not jump to conclusions. Just because she likes girls doesn’t necessarily mean she likes me. That’s not how it works. It could be that she just sees me as a friend. By telling her… that, I might weird her out.

It felt a bit like she was rationalizing, but at the same time it made sense. Being attracted to a certain gender didn’t mean being attracted to all members of that gender. Manny liked girls too, but he didn’t… Well, actually, he did see all girls through that lens. Okay, bad example. Chris liked girls too, but he had never looked at Viv that way. Um, except that we’ve only hung out a couple of times. And it’s definitely possible he looked at me that way and I just missed it.

Viv internally sighed, once again, at her lack of relationship acumen. It was true that when Dashiell had asked her out, back in high school, it had come completely out of the blue for her. She had not noticed any sign that he was in any way attracted to her.

“Are you still here?” Carla said.

“Uh, yes. Sorry.”

“So, any plans for the weekend?”

“No, not really.”

“Not doing anything exciting on Saturday night?”

“Uh, no, I pretty much never do.” Except last Saturday night, she thought.

“More the indoors type, huh? I could kinda tell. No offense.”

“Oh, none taken,” Viv said.

“I’m more outdoorsy myself. Can’t survive long without fresh air in my lungs and green grass under my feet.”

“Is that because you’re, uh…” She didn’t finish her sentence. Was she getting nosy?

“A Dryad?” Clara completed, unbothered. “Yeah. Well, I’m not one hundred percent Dryad, I have enough Human in me that I can tolerate being away from nature. I still don’t like it, though.”

“I’ve never met a Dryad before,” Viv said.

“Technically, neither have I,” Clara said. “We aren’t that common around here. You have to go up in the Northwest or in New England to meet some.”

“What about your parents?” She covered her mouth with her hand. “I’m sorry, that’s none of my business.”

“No, that’s fine. I never actually knew my parents; they both died in a car accident when I was one year old.”

“Oh, I’m really sorry…” Viv said.

“It’s okay. My aunt and her dad raised me, along with my cousins like I said. They’re all Human, if you’re wondering.”

“I wasn’t, but, uh, wait, your mom’s sister is Human?”

“Yeah, my mom wasn’t the Dryad. My dad was.”

“A male Dryad?”

“Right? They’re so rare people don’t even believe they exist. Well, technically, he was a Rådande. That’s a kind of Dryad native to Sweden.”

“What about your dad’s family?” she asked, now less embarrassed about her curiosity.

“He didn’t have one, as far as we know. From what Grandpa tells me, he was kind of a loner.”

“I don’t really have a father either,” Viv said after a moment.

“Oh? Can I ask what happened?”

“He left. Well, Mom kicked him out when I was three. I don’t really know why, I’ve never actually asked. All I know is he was not a good person.”

“I’m so-” Clara was interrupted. Viv heard a voice in the background. “Sorry, I’ve got to cut this short. Auntie and I are going shopping. Can I call you back tomorrow afternoon?”

“Uh, actually, I’ve got a thing then.”

“Oh, okay. Guess I’ll see you on Monday then. Bye!”

Viv terminated the phone call, and went back to her readings, her humor slightly more jovial for the rest of the day.

Soon, or rather not soon enough, Sunday afternoon rolled by. Viv received a text message from Nova, informing her that she was sending her car on self-drive to come get her. She offered to take the bus instead, but Nova insisted, pointing out that it would be a two hour commute by bus, and only half of that by car.

Nova’s car used a basic but efficient authentication method. Viv unlocked its doors with the appropriate phone app, then entered a code sent to her by Nova into the onboard computer to start the engine. Although Viv had her driver’s license -which she got on her third attempt-, she never drove. She was, unsurprisingly, a nervous driver. And on top of that, she never had any places to be.

After an uneventful ride, interrupted only by the rain, Viv arrived at the Abercromby’s house. Nova was waiting for her on the porch, her leather long coat protecting her from the falling water. Viv quickly entered the house at Nova’s injunction, and both went straight to the latter’s room.

“Take a seat,” Nova said, pointing at the bed.

She sat down, her butt sinking a few inches into the soft mattress, and made herself comfortable. Nova removed her boots, then her coat. Viv’s breath got caught in her throat when she saw what Nova was wearing underneath: a leather bustier top, which looked to be molded over her chest. She removed her own sweater, as well as her tennis shoes. Just like last time, Nova held out her hand to Viv, who wordlessly took off her AR glasses and gave them to her.

“Let’s get this second lesson started,” Nova declared. “Firstly, did you do the homework I assigned you?”

“Yes,” Viv replied. She almost said “yes ma’am” as though Nova was an actual teacher. “I sent you an email with the story you told me to find.”

“Indeed. A very interesting story: A Stolen Dream. I read it again this morning.”

Viv giggled awkwardly. “Interesting” was a kind way to put it.

“Now, can you tell me why you chose that story?”

“You, uh, you told me to find a BDSM story that I liked.”

“Yes, but what exactly did you like about it?”

“Um, err…” Viv blushed. “It… It’s well written?”

That non-answer was not even true. In fact, the story had not been proof-read very well and contained several typos (including one of Viv’s pet peeves: “should of” instead of “should have”). In addition, the characterization fell rather flat, and several lines of dialogue were stilted. Nova shook her head. Viv gulped her saliva and tried again.

“I liked the… the, um, concept of the story.”

Nova raised an eyebrow. “A woman is infatuated with one of her coworkers, and decides to make her hers. One day, she subdues her, ties her up, locks her up in her office, and… has her way with her.”

“Huh-uh,” Viv squeaked, certain at this moment that her entire body had turned red.

“It’s certainly an interesting concept,” Nova said. “And a good example of a BDSM story, with a definite emphasis on domination.”

She turned to the laptop open on her desk and tapped a few keys, and the story appeared on the screen.

“I know it’s wrong,” Viv suddenly blurted out.

“Excuse me?”

“The story. Liking it. I mean, I know it’s wrong,” she said, babbling nervously. “It’s wrong to like stories like that. The things the main character does t-to that girl… Against her consent, I mean… It’s, well, it’s…”

“Just a story,” Nova interrupted with a smile.

“I mean, yeah, but liking it…”

“Calm down, Viviana,” Nova said, placing a gentle paw on her knee. “I’m not here to judge you. These are just kinks, fantasies. There’s nothing wrong with fantasies. And there’s nothing wrong with indulging them either, so long as it’s done in a safe and consensual way.”

Viv rubbed her hands, and forced herself to meet Nova’s gaze. The sincerity of her expression calmed her down somewhat.

“Besides,” the latter added with a wink, “my own fantasies would raise the hair on the back of your neck.”

And there was that heat again. Viv pressed her thighs closely together, as if she was trying to protect what she hid between them. To protect it, or to keep it under control…

“So you have completed your first assignment,” Nova said. “Well done.”

“Will I get extra credit?” Viv joked.

“No, but you may receive a reward later,” she said. A predatory glint danced in her eye, and Viv temporarily forgot how to breathe again.

“As to your second assignment…” Nova left her sentence hanging in the air.

“I asked her her name,” Viv said with a hint of pride in her voice. “It’s Clara.”

She pulled out her phone and showed the new contact.

“You even got her phone number?” Nova chuckled. “You’re really gunning for that extra credit, huh?”

Viv laughed.

Nova placed her paw on her lap again, and softly rubbed her knee.

“Well done,” she said.

Viv couldn’t decide which of that gesture or those words flustered her the most. Nova’s paw moved from her knee to her hand, which she picked up.

“Now, for our lesson.”

Standing up, she pulled on Viv’s hand, inciting her to stand up as well. As she did, Viv found herself merely a few inches from Nova. She suddenly became very conscious of the fact that Nova was over one foot taller than her. In fact, she noticed that Nova’s ample chest was almost right at eye-level to her. She cleared her throat and looked at her feet. Nova said:

“Today’s subject is: bondage.”

She pressed a clawed finger under Viv’s chin, who quivered again when she felt the tip dig lightly into her skin, and raised her head.

“I am going to restrain you, Viviana,” she said, that predatory glint appearing in her eye again. 

Viv’s entire body hummed. Her heart started beating so hard she was certain Nova could hear it. Her thighs, still closed tightly, were now feverously rubbing against one another.

“Before that, however, do you remember what we discussed during our last session?”

“Um…”

“About safewords.”

“Oh. Yes, yes.”

“For today’s lesson, I’m going to let you choose one.”

Viv licked her lips.

“Paradisio,” she said.

It was Solveig and Larazel’s safeword, which they had gotten from their reading of The Divine Comedy.

“Perfect,” Nova said. “Let’s begin.”

 She raised her index claw, and brushed the side of Viv’s pants.

“Take them off.”

Viv gasped, her eyes growing wide.

“You’ll be more comfortable,” Nova added with a smirk.

There was a lull during which Viv began questioning the reality of her current situation. She looked into Nova’s bright orange eyes, who looked back at her without a word. Then, slowly, Viv’s shaking hands moved to the front of her pants. The button opened, then the zipper went down. She held onto the sides of her pants, and bent down until she lowered them down to her ankles. One foot after another, she stepped out of them. She stood up straight again, her hands joined in front of her, her breathing rushed.

A unique sentiment of vulnerability washed over her. It took her a conscious effort to meet Nova’s gaze again. A murmur filtered between her lips when she thought she saw the canid lick her lips.

“Turn around,” Nova ordered.

She did so, facing the bed and a wall covered by a few band posters. Behind her, Nova crouched, and pulled out the dark red wooden box. She followed it with her eyes, but, as Nova undid the latch, she said:

“No peeking.”

Gulping down the saliva inundating her mouth, Viv focused on the wall in front of her, trying to control both her breathing and her imagination. There were a few rummaging noises, then Nova rose again and walked right behind her, so close Viv could feel her body heat.

Nova’s paw closed on her wrist, gentle but firm, and pulled it behind her back. Something cold and hard wrapped around it, then Viv heard a metallic clicking sound. Nova grabbed her other wrist, and the same thing happened. Instinctively, Viv tried to pull her hands apart, but they were now tightly bound together, barely a few inches apart, her elbows forming two right angles. At a guess, she was now restrained by a pair of handcuffs. This made the heat between her legs turn into a fire.

“Get down on your knees.”

Viv jumped. Nova had leaned to whisper this command in her ear. The bound girl looked down at her feet. This is crazy, she thought. It is, isn’t it? Should I be doing this? Maybe I should stop.

Before her mind could resolve that matter, her body had already moved, and she knelt down on the carpeted floor. She sensed Nova crouching behind her, and searching for another item in her box of wonders. What now?

There was yet another click, and Viv felt something encroaching around her ankle over her sock. The other ankle was soon bound in the same way. Again, she tried moving her feet, but their bindings were very secure. Nova’s paw touched her shoulder, and she said, her lips brushing the shell of her ear:

“You’re my prisoner now, Viviana.”

A shudder overtook Viv, from the base of her spine all the way to her neck. Prisoner, she thought, shutting her eyes. Prisoner. Her prisoner. I am her prisoner. Unwittingly, she struggled against her restraints again. Strangely, she realized that she wasn’t trying to escape them. The opposite in fact: it was like she wanted to reassure herself that they were still there, still tight and unyielding. The air left her lungs in a strange sound:

“Oooh…”

“You’re starting to understand,” Nova said, her timbre low. “To truly understand.”

“I’m… I…” she stammered.

“The pleasure there is in being bound,” she explained. “In being restrained. In giving up control.”

Viv’s thoughts were growing fuzzier as the heat inside her was rising along her torso and invading her brain. She opened her eyes again, and noticed she was subconsciously spreading her knees, exposing her panties… and the damp spot on them. Nova noticed the latter as well, judging from the satisfied chuckle she made.

“We’re almost finished,” Nova said, holding her closed paw before her. “One more part. Can you guess what it is?”

“Huh…?” Nova said. She tried to articulate, but words turned to puree on her tongue.

Nova opened her paw, revealing what she was holding: a ball gag; the very same, it seemed, that Viv had picked up in their first lesson.

“Oh,” Viv said.

With her free paw, Nova gently grabbed the underneath of her chin and ordered:

“Open up.”

Without even thinking, Viv parted her lips. Still with slow moves, as if she was trying not to startle a wild rabbit, Nova placed the red plastic ball between her teeth, then pulled the leather straps around her head. She lifted Viv’s shoulder-length dark hair, and latched the gag behind her neck, then tightened it. As the straps dug into her cheeks, Viv let out a throaty sound.

“Hmmmm…”

She blinked, and paled. That was a moan. She had moaned. There was no use pretending that she wasn’t aroused at this point -even more aroused, in fact, than she ever remembered being-, but such denial was like a reflex to her. Nova’s paws moved to Viv’s shoulders, encroaching on them with palpable glee.

“Now, you’re completely mine,” she growled. Viv had to bite down her gag to stifle another moan. “You can’t escape, you can’t struggle, you can’t even scream.”

Viv felt her loins getting even wetter. Can’t escape, the words echoed in her mind. Her prisoner.

“Before I give you the reward I mentioned,” Nova said, her tone changing suddenly to something more conversational, “we’ll just add one rule. You can’t use our safeword for now, so we’ll use something else. Do you know how to snap your fingers?”

Viv responded with a demonstration, making her ring finger click against her thumb.

“Okay. So, the rule goes: one snap for yes, two for no, three for stop. Do you understand?”

She snapped her fingers once.

“Good,” Nova said. “Now, your reward.”

Her paws descended from Viv’s shoulders and down her torso. She shivered like she had been tased when they brushed the side of her breasts. The feel of the tip of her claws made Viv’s mind swirl. Then, suddenly, Nova’s paws grabbed onto her prisoner’s stomach, and dragged her fully against her. Viv tensed up and let out a muffled shout of surprise, but as Nova’s furred, warm arms wrapped around her, she quickly relaxed. Blood rushed to her ears as she realized her head now laid on Nova’s massive breasts. They felt soft yet firm, even through the leather bustier. She was almost overtaken by an impulse to nuzzle them. She noticed a patch of jet black fur above them, partly poking out of her top.

Nova picked the hem of Viv’s shirt and lifted it just a few inches, then her claws started drawing circles on her bare stomach. This simple gesture was enough to make Viv putty in her paws. She slithered in her arms, muffled, high-pitched sounds coming through the small holes of her ball gag. Her mind was becoming delightfully empty. She no longer worried about what to say, or what to do. After all, she could no longer say or do anything. She no longer had to. All she had to do was lie in Nova’s paws and let her do… whatever she wished.

So taken she was by her bound and gagged bliss, she had not noticed how Nova’s clawed fingers were roaming lower and lower, until they reached her panties. Viv twisted her neck and looked at Nova. She smiled back at her, then brushed over the thin piece of cloth, eliciting a quivering breath from her captive. Viv moaned again, not bothering to hold it this time. Her pussy lips were wet and swollen, and terribly sensitive. Nova gave them another stroke, and this time put more strength in her fingers.

“Hmmmmphhh,” Viv mumbled, a bit of drool pouring from the corner of her lips.

Viv almost never masturbated. She had tried at times, mostly out of curiosity. But her attempts, while pleasing, were always unrewarding. She would brush and caress her pussy, carefully, only occasionally daring to finger herself. But after a few minutes of trying, she would decide that it was going nowhere and simply stop. A twinge of shame sometimes followed the whole experience.

And yet this time around… Nova was not doing anything more than brushing her pussy over her panties, and it was enough to send delightful waves of electricity through her body. Her other paw got hold of one of her thighs, massaging it and keeping it from closing reflexively at the same time.

Viv could feel something build up inside her. Something raw, hot, and uncontrollable. With every stroke, it grew bigger, and bigger, and bigger… Her moans became louder, more high-pitched. Her legs were shaking like leaves in the wind, pulling on her ankles cuffs. She pressed her head into Nova’s chest, a nose sinking half an inch into her breast.

And then, inevitably, ineluctably, she exploded. Fireworks went off in her mind, blinding her. All of her muscles contracted, almost painfully so, and she threw back her head. Finally, she went limp, as if all energy had been sapped out of her. The world around her turned into a blur. She breathed hard and fast through her gag, her chest rising and falling arhythmically.

In the blissful fog that clouded her senses, she vaguely noticed Nova pushing her down until her head rested on her lap. She felt her paw fiddle behind her head, and the ball gag went slack, before being removed, dragging two threads of saliva with it.

“Good girl,” Nova said, petting her hair, filtering it between her claws.

“Oh my God…” Viv sputtered, her voice hoarse. “What- What was…”

“That was your reward. Did you enjoy it?”

“Yes!” she said emphatically. “But…” She tried to roll on her back, but remembered her hands were still handcuffed. “What… I mean, what was… that?”

Nova had a quizzical look for a second, then answered: “That was an orgasm.”

“An…? Oh.” In that moment, she was thankful her face couldn’t get more flushed.

“Was that your first?” Nova asked.

“Well…” Viv licked her upper lip. “I guess. I mean, yeah. Yeah, it was.”

“Have you never…” Nova poked her panties with her index claw.

“It never felt this good,” Viv replied in a wheeze.

“I’m glad, then. Do you need a few minutes to recover?”

“Yes, please.”

“Should I take the cuffs off?”

“No,” she just said.

For the next ten, maybe fifteen minutes, Viv just laid there, her cheek enjoying the firmness of Nova’s thighs -was there a part of that girl that wasn’t firm?- and the warmth of her fur; she noticed the latter felt more rough on her legs. Nova continued to pet her hair, the tip of her claw occasionally touching her scalp. Viv dozed off for a little while, but didn’t actually fall asleep.

“Okay,” Nova eventually said. “Roll on your stomach.”

Viv couldn’t help but sigh in disappointment when the cuffs finally came off. She sat up, and massaged her numb wrists, blinking rapidly as she slowly came back to reality. Picking up her pants, she stood up and put them back on. As she did, she noticed she had been sweating quite a lot. She made a mental note to take a shower later. Oh… And she should probably throw her panties in the washing machine.

“That’s it for our lesson today,” Nova said, adjusting her bustier. “I know it was shorter than last time, but I hope you learnt something.”

“I did,” Viv said. “A lot of things actually,” she added with a large smile.

She put on her sweater, and got her AR glasses back. Nova used her laptop to program her car for the drive back.

“I’m sorry I can’t drive you back home myself this time,” she said. “I’ve got a lot of homework.”

“That’s okay. So, um, when’s our next lesson?”

“Thirsty for knowledge, huh?” Nova chuckled. With a sigh, she answered: “Unfortunately, I’m not sure when I’ll have some free time. College’s been picking up these days. I’ll let you know.”

“Oh,” Viv said, a little crestfallen.

“Don’t worry,” Nova said with a wink. “I always find a way to make time for my students. Especially the most eager.”

Viv hid her mouth behind her hands, as she sometimes did when she laughed. A thought then popped up in her mind.

“Um, do you have, uh… I mean, are there other… err… students?”

Nova visibly pondered her answer, but when she opened her mouth, Viv hurriedly said:

“No, no, nevermind. That’s not- it’s none of my business.”

Viv turned away and all but ran to the door, her throat tight. She turned the handle, but the door didn’t budge. Viv noticed that Nova was pressing her paw on it. The giant wolf-like girl was once again leaning over her, her bright orange eyes staring deeply into hers.

“No, I don’t have any other students,” she replied calmly.

“Oh… I see.”

Nova let her open the door, then accompanied her to the car. As Viv took place behind the wheel, Nova said:

“I’ll text you your homework.”

“Okay,” Viv said with a large smile.

The engine went on, barely audible as usual, and Viv shut her car door. Nova watched her leave, waving her off. Then, she walked back inside her house. Right as she passed the door’s threshold, she stopped dead in her tracks. Her sensitive nose had just picked up the smell of boiling water coming from the kitchen. She cleared her throat, and went in.

“Hey, Dad,” she said.

It was indeed her father -Duncan Abercromby. Even with his back turned, there was no mistaking his neck-length blonde hair, and his unique scent (mixed with her mother’s smell, as always). Nova wasn’t entirely sure how she had failed to notice that he was home. It could be that his smell was so naturally present in the Abercromby household that she no longer noticed it. But it was more likely that she was too focused on something else.

“Hello, pup,” her father said, pouring the hot water into a tea kettle. “How are you doing?”

“I’m doing well. I thought you and Mom were going out this afternoon.”

“We were, but your Mom got called in at work for an emergency. She’ll be back for dinner, though.”

“Ah-ah. Erm, did you…”

“… See the girl you brought home?” His lips stretched into a smile. “Afraid so, pup.”

Nova scratched her nose with her thumb -a reflex she had inherited from her father.

“I don’t have your mom’s sense of smell,” he said, “but it is pretty obvious you weren’t just talking up there.”

“Would you believe I’m a tutor?”

“I would not,” Duncan calmly retorted, adding the tea leaves to the hot water. “You know that sort of thing is not allowed under your roof.”

“Yeah, why is that by the way? I mean, my sister and I are both adults now.”

“Because your parents, who feed you, keep you clothed, pay your tuition and your allowance, and own the house in which you sleep, have said so. Cuppa?”

“Yes, please. But, come on, that’s a non-reason.”

“You want the real reason?”

“Yeah, I do!”

“Fine,” Duncan groaned. “Because the moment we allow it, it’s going to be a non-stop orgy in this house. You and your sister are Hellhounds, after all. And need I remind you, I’m the one usually doing the cleanup here.”

Nova pinched her lips. Her father poured three cups of tea, then added two sugar cubes to two of them, and a bit of cream and some lemon juice to the last one.

“Can you call your sister down?” he said.

Nova nodded, and ran up the stairs. She knew her twin sister was in the room right next to hers during her private lesson with Viviana, but she wasn’t the least bit worried. Jacinda was a big music fan, and she always loved it loud. In addition, she was often wearing those headphones Nova had offered her for her birthday some time ago. All this combined meant she would sometimes forget there was a world outside her bedroom -she once failed to hear a delivery truck crashing into a street lamp right in front of the house during a quiet evening.

Knowing from experience that she wouldn’t hear a knock on her door, and probably wouldn’t pay attention to her smartphone, Nova just entered her room. Jacinda was lying on her bed, her feet up the wall and her headphones on.

“Yeah?” she said, taking said headphones off for a moment.

“Tea will be ready in a few minutes,” Nova said.”

“Kay, be right there.”

The headphones went back on, and Nova went back down the stairs. From its smell, the tea was just about properly infused.

“So, shall we discuss my punishment?” Nova asked her dad.

“Let’s wait until your mother is here,” he said, before blowing on his cup of tea.

“Sure. Or…” She picked up her own cup. “I could tell her you’re taking her to Havana for your wedding anniversary.”

“Excuse me?” her father said, frowning.

“You… might have forgotten to clear up your browser history.”

“I might have. On my own computer.” His eyebrows dipped further.

Nova shrugged innocently. “Just saying. You really want it to be a surprise to Mom, don’t you?”

“Nova Abercromby. Are you blackmailing your own father?”

“Perish the thought,” she said, shaking her paw. “It’s just an exchange of favors. You keep my secret, I keep yours. You know, like families do.”

Duncan glared at her for a moment, then laughed.

“If I needed to be reminded that you’re my daughter…” he said. He took a sip of his tea. From his expression, it wasn’t ready yet. “Okay. But you had better not pull that again.”

“Ah, come on, Dad. We’re Hellhounds. Teenage Hellhounds. It’s gonna happen at some point. You pretty much said it yourself.”

“Then I suggest you find another venue to… tutor your pupil.”

“Fine,” Nova sighed.

She drank some of her tea, which was now just right. So she couldn’t use her house for her extracurricular activities? That was fine. It just so happened that she had found out about another place that would be perfect for such purposes…

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