This is ridiculous, now the boss has every girl in the department hard at it. He's getting desperate and I can scarcely believe what he's paying them all to do... trawling the Internet in search of a talented erotica author and reading embarrassing stories all day.
"There must be somebody out there," the boss keeps saying. "For God's sake, find them."
The boss wants a hit, inspired by the spectacular sales of another publisher's book. He's shamelessly trying to piggy back his way to big profits and another promotion. Except we don't do "that" kind of literature here at Acme Home and Leisure, we do books on gardening, interior design and other wholesome and enlightening activities. Our readers aren't in the least bit interested in the dark, foreboding world of bondage... or are they?
My colleague Walker believes the boss is on to something and the firm must adapt to the growing demand for all things fetish. Walker has already adapted. After reading one particularly twisted work, he now fancies himself as a Master of the S&M lifestyle.
"Haven't you read that book yet, David?" he keeps asking me.
"I've told you, it's not my kind of thing."
"It has some very cool ideas," he tells me. "You should try some with your wife."
"A marriage is about loyalty and love, Walker. Not kinky rubber boots."
He ignores my wise reply and returns to reading another one of "those" books, sat with his feet up and a silly smirk across his smug face. As usual, he hasn't lifted a finger all day to keep the business ticking over - and we're supposed to be launching "Perfect Hedgerows" next week.
"Hmm," Walker remarks on another repulsive idea from his latest read. "I must get my slave to do that."
I don't ask what he'll get his "slave" girlfriend in Admin to do, I really don't want to know. That girl has slipped enough already in my estimation. I'm very, very disappointed in her. Rachael has clearly been corrupted by her involvement with Walker and his seedy research. To think she was once a prime candidate to join us as a commissioning editor, yet now you'd think she worked in a brothel. I really must have a word with her about her appearance... I'll do it now, I'll call her on the intercom.
"Rachael, could you spare me a few minutes please?"
"Just a moment, David. I think I could be onto something."
"You're going to love it, I'm just printing it off."
She sounded excited. Trust Rachael to come up with the goods. Perhaps I'll hold off from having a little talk with her.
"She's such a babe," remarks Walker.
Rachael arrives, clutching a few A4s with God knows what printed on them. And what on earth does she think she's wearing today? She can barely walk her skirt is so tight. She probably thinks she can get away with it, but I reckon her skirt's hemline must be close to three inches above the knee. The firm's dress code clearly states no more than two. I know. I wrote it.
I could send her home with a caution against her name, except the department would soon fall apart without her. So instead I settle on a look of disapproval, which I think she misinterprets.
"Do you like my new skirt then, David?"
"Er... yes, Rachael. It's very nice, very nice indeed."
"Thank you," she says. "I think you'll like this story as well."
"What's it called?" I ask her.
"White Girl In Chains," she replies. "It's a study on Sapphic submission."
"Sounds promising," says Walker. "Good work, my slave."
"Thank you, my Master," and she even performs a small curtsey.
They've got to be winding me up. How can anyone take this Master and slave thing in the least bit seriously? And as for an intelligent young woman like Rachael being so demonstratively subservient...
"David still hates BDSM," Master Walker tells his slave.
"I love being a slave," Rachael tells me. "I feel so liberated."
Liberated? The poor girl seems to have no idea as to the meaning of the word. What happened to her feminist principles and education, the years she and all other college girls have spent striving to achieve gender equality? Something seems to have gone seriously wrong with the female mindset.
"Er... right." I say to her. "Well let's hear what you've got then."
Rachael clears her throat, then begins reading the opening paragraphs of "White Girl in Chains." Now I had hoped that Rachael would have showed some discretion and taste in picking a likely candidate for us to publish, but unfortunately not. From the very first page, it's perfectly clear that the author has very low self esteem and is incapable of sustaining a normal, romantic relationship. I feel sorry for her husband, who must be a very tolerant sort of chap.
"What do think so far?" Rachael asks Walker and I.
"Very good," says Walker. "I've a hunch that the chains in the title have a double meaning, the first being a metaphor for the stifling inadequacies of the author's marriage. Am I right?"
"Oh, Master. You understand women so well."
"Thank you, my slave. A man must be aware of a woman's needs."
"Yes," says Rachael. "And the needs of Steffanie require a very special awareness."
"Who's Steffanie?" I ask her.
"The author of course. Do try and keep up, David."
"Your wife's called Steffanie," says Walker, beaming a stupid smile my way.
"So?" I reply. "There are thousands of Steffanies in England."
"But not so many with the German spelling," says Rachael. "Shall I continue?"
"Oh please do," says Walker. "I'm enjoying this immensely."
I never realized just how childish Walker can be. What's so funny about a coincidence of names? Or the rest of Steffanie's story? A sordid tale of a white girl being submissive beyond belief to her black girlfriend.
A black girl born in Ghana!
With close shaved hair!
A black girl called Chloe!
"Hold it right there, Rachael." I tell her. "Where did you get hold of this story?"
"Off the Internet, Steffanie has posted quite a few Sapphic love stories. I think they're quite sweet and innocent really. I like her, I think she shows promise and the contrast between her characters is excellent."
"Good point," says Walker. "The husband is on his own planet and completely out of touch with modern women, whereas Chloe is highly sophisticated and has a very thoughtful personality, she's perfect as a Mistress and lover."
"What do you think, David?" asks Rachael. "Doesn't your wife have a black friend called..."
"That's enough!" I tell them, and all goes quiet for a few moments.
Very funny... I don't think. But it's not me facing total humiliation, it's my poor wife for indulging herself in a silly stream of fantasy. I need to have a few words with her and advise more discretion. I'll proceed with great caution, her female mind is such a mysterious and fragile thing, so much so that it's probably best if I just ignore her silly online ramblings and try to forget about them.
Except I can't help but wonder how long Steffanie has held these elaborate, yearning fantasies for her best friend. Perhaps it's Chloe I should talk to, warn her that my wife dreams of jumping into bed with her. I'm sure Chloe would be more than sympathetic, doubtless sharing my view that the mere thought of her collaring my wife as her obedient submissive is... very... very...
Be gone you dark temptations!
I've grown weary of all this erotica nonsense, it's time to take a stand against the corrupting influence it's having on nice girls like Rachael, not to mention the more vulnerable women like my wife. I tell my two colleagues exactly what I think, that a healthy relationship cannot possibly be sustained by deplorable acts of dominance and submission.
Combined with a little romance, a good marriage needs backbone, purity and two resolute minds. You're not going to find those noble values by wearing a leather collar and having your hands tied behind your back. We need to raise our readers' aspirations, not lower them by trying to titillate their most basic instincts. We should be striving to protect women from themselves, to...
I could go on, but my two listeners are both gawking at me wide eyed and open mouthed.
"That's it," announces Rachael, snapping back to reality.
"Brilliant," says Walker. "We'll publish the exact opposite to BDSM."
"What are you two talking about?" I ask them.
I don't get a reply, instead Walker calls up the boss on the conference phone.
"Sir," he says to him. "We have our author. David knows exactly what's needed."
"Good man, Gaye," replies the boss. "Get Rachael to draw you up a contract."
"But, Sir. I..."
"I always knew you'd pull the firm through, Gaye. Top job."
"Er... thank you, Sir."
Right. OK. Thanks a bundle Walker. You too, slave girl. I suppose they both think it's highly amusing dropping me in it. Except I'm the boss's star boy now, I may as well make the most of it. I reckon I can soon knock off a decent romance come love guide. How hard can it be? All I need write about is what keeps the wife happy... or used to, before she started spending so much time with her best friend.
I'll start with a courtship scene. As I recall, scented candles always set the right mood and I've no shortage of other sensual ideas to expand on. In the meantime, Walker will have to pull his finger out and actually do something about the launch of the "Perfect Hedgerows" book.
And as for his so called slave...
"By the way, Rachael." I say to her. "Your skirt is far too short. Get it sorted."
"Are you going to discipline me, David?"
"Watch it, young lady. We'll be doing things my way from now on."
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with this note attached, it has been posted without my permission.
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