by Ariel_Emms

“Not yet, Morsel,” the serene voice said firmly and with just the slightest hint of amusement, “you will know when”.

Ariel lay still, her cheek flat, the muscles in her neck corded with strain, her hands pressed flat above her head, her small breasts crushed between her chest and the wooden tabletop. She made a strangled noise meant to indicate assent to her Mistress’ admonition.

Her face squeezed tight, her eyes shut, her mouth a tiny O, small beads of exertion dotting her forehead, one would be hard pressed from reading her expression to know whether it was pleasure or pain. Anyone reading her mind, to the extent Ariel was still forming coherent thoughts, would be in no doubt.

A small portion of her mind was still capable of seeing clearly, still able to feel embarrassment at her own reactions, able to foresee tomorrow when she would blush and be unable to bear Mistress’ teasing or to meet Miss Oh’s eyes. In truth even that rational part of her mind was not always of great benefit to her – it knew that her Mistress and Miss Oh would do as they pleased no matter how she pleaded that they not tell anyone of today. If she begged them to keep her shame secret Mistress would smirk, Miss Oh would laugh, neither unkindly, neither wanting to hurt her, but neither swayed in the slightest by her pleading, she knew that would be so – yet she knew that tomorrow she would plead uselessly nonetheless.

But that rational portion of her mind, useful or not, held no sway over her now. The portion of her brain controlling her body was the animalistic, primal, rutting side, the instinct that flattened her breasts even more against the table as a way to thrust her backside further into the air, the longing, the unvocalizable need that forced her to present herself, lost, her back arched, her legs stretched to tiptoe, to expose her most private parts even more, begging with her body language to be taken, harder, again, to be used and used and used. The side that could barely hear – but could, still, just hear – the voice of her Mistress.

It was not long ago that Ariel’s feet had been flat on the floor, literally and metaphorically. Miss Oh had very kindly taken her lingerie shopping – she had such good taste – and she and Ariel had returned to Mistress’ club to show off what they had found. As Ariel was just straightening up, having changed into a panties and corset set, she saw Miss Oh whispering into Mistress’ ear. “That’s never good” Ariel thought to herself, not sure herself whether she was joking. Mistress smiled with that expression Ariel would have thought of as an evil grin if she did not love her so much, and as Ariel thought “definitely not good” she was even less certain whether she was joking.

“Um, so, um, we, we found this one too, Mistress, it’s, I, I do like the colour on this one, but, but it’s a bit, well, it’s nearly transparent” Ariel stuttered, beginning to feel a little nervous as Miss Oh walked away from Lady Ecks, around the table, and past Ariel. Ariel was about to turn so that she would still be facing both of them, but she heard her Mistress say “I’m still right here, Morsel”. With a start Ariel tried to continue what she had been saying.

“Oh, um, yes, Mistress, sorry, I, I just, um, this one, well, I do like it, Miss Oh suggested this one, and, well, I probably wouldn’t – I mean, if I’d been on my own I wouldn’t have had the nerve, but, but Miss Oh, she said…”

“Ariel, you really mustn’t be so self-conscious” Lady Ecks said. “What if your pretty little nipples are quite apparent right through that gauze? You know how fond I am of those perky tits of yours. Perhaps I’ll take you shopping with me dressed like that so I can show you off to some of my friends, you’d enjoy that, I know. Particularly as I believe those nipples are a little more visible than they were a few seconds ago, aren’t they poking through a bit more firmly?”

Ariel blushed as her Mistress laughed at her discomfiture. It was true, she knew, her nipples were getting harder, but it wasn’t fair of Mistress to do this to her, she knew Ariel couldn’t resist her. She didn’t – she really didn’t – want to be leashed and taken out in public this way, she, she was sure she didn’t.

Ariel was beginning to blush a little more as she realised that Mistress had said nothing about leashing, that her own mind had filled that detail in, when the skin on her shoulders and neck began to tingle. She became aware that someone – well, it must be Miss Oh, surely – was standing very close to her.

“The Morsel is being coy, Ecks”, Miss Oh suddenly said “she hasn’t told you the most delightful feature of this outfit.” Miss Oh’s hands floated above her shoulders, so close that Ariel could hardly believe she was not touching her, hands gliding so near the surface of her skin that it caused goosebumps to rise. She felt Miss Oh step closer, felt her warm breath on the back of her neck as Miss Oh’s hands ran the length of her arms, still not touching her. Ariel froze, unable to move, as Miss Oh brought her arms up, and oh so delicately finally made contact, her hands resting very lightly on Ariel’s breasts. Ariel stood rigid, determined not to gasp at Miss Oh’s touch.

“The important thing, Ecks, is that these cups are removable” said Miss Oh, taking her hands away and peeling the cups from the corset as she did so. Ariel lost her struggle not to gasp. She wanted to cross her arms in front of her, unconsciously they began to move, but she saw the slightest hint of amusement on her Mistress’ face as her eyes dropped to Ariel’s arms for a moment, and she managed to restrain herself.

Lady Ecks smiled. “Quite right, Oh, you were wise to have her buy it. Straighten up, Morsel, be proud, shoulders back!”. Ariel felt her cheeks redden, and thought not for the first time how unfair this was – she wasn’t even actually naked, and it wasn’t like Mistress hadn’t seen her naked many times – or that Miss Oh hadn’t, if it came to it – so she should be used to it! How was her Mistress still capable of making her feel so exposed and vulnerable! She struggled once again against the impulse to cover herself, knowing Mistress would mock her if she did. And she realised, as her attention turned away from her arms, that she had, automatically and without thought, thrust her shoulders back – and her small breasts forward – on her Mistress’ command.

Ariel might have smiled in self-recognition at that, if she had not at that moment felt a small pressure between her shoulder blades – a finger, or a fingernail, really – more precisely, Miss Oh’s fingernail – pressing into her. She would have turned to look, but Mistress’ eyes were on her, and Ariel’s eyes were caught in that gaze. She could not look away – knew, somehow, she was not supposed to – and so found herself pushed forward ever so slightly, till her hips were touching the edge of the table in front of her.

She expected the pushing to stop then, and slowed herself – till she realised the nail was now pressing more deeply into her, that Miss Oh was not yet done. Slowly, gradually, Ariel felt herself forced further forward, pivoting from her hips, bending, folding, afraid to put her hands forward, keeping her head up as long as she could, but eventually she gasped just a little as she felt her exposed flesh, first her nipples, then her breasts, then shoulders and face contact the cold wood surface. Can one hear a smile? Ariel would have sworn she heard her Mistress smile.

Ariel felt Miss Oh’s finger trace an agonizingly slow line down her back, across the corset, the small of her back, eventually coming to rest at the waistband of her panties.

Ariel heard Miss Oh say “Why do you even let her wear panties, Ecks, such a needless hindrance” and heard her Mistress reply “Ah well, Oh, it’s harmless enough, and it gives her a sense of security, you know how she hates to be naked”.

Not fair, Ariel wanted to cry out to Miss Oh, not fair, YOU chose these panties for me! But even the most foolish mouse is too smart to enter into an argument between the cats who hold her captive.

Miss Oh laughed musically. “A sense of security, Ecks? pfft!” Ariel froze as she felt cold metal run along her hip. She daren’t breathe – she knew Miss Oh’s knife, she knew, her mind knew, she really was almost completely certain that Miss Oh would not harm her with it, but her body froze nonetheless. And as she knew – hoped, she had to say, given the alternatives – would happen, in a moment she left the blade slip into her waistband, one hip, the other, two quick pulls, and the panties fell from her.

“There” said Miss Oh “much better, and still not naked, she has the corset to hide behind. But”, said Miss Oh with a sly smile “shouldn’t you tie her, Ecks? Probably better if she doesn’t move.”

Ariel heard a touch of amusement in her Mistress’ voice as she replied “I think I can manage to secure her without too much difficulty, Oh. Little One – put your arms out in front of you there, that’s a good girl.” Ariel’s voice nearly broke from apprehension as she said “ye-es, Mistress” and stretched her arms along the table top, reaching toward her Mistress still seated at the far side, feeling the cold of the wood along her arms.

“Comfortable now. Little One? Good – then stretch your arms a little closer to me – yes, good girl.” Ariel strained to reach out further, fingers splayed, her hips pressing into the edge of the table. “Now Morsel, feel your palms, your fingers, feel them resting on the table? Good girl, now press them down, feel them gripping the table top, feel them forced against it. Morsel, your Mistress wants your hands to stay right there, do you understand?” Ariel managed to squeak out “yes Mistress”. She found that if she craned her neck she could turn just enough to see Mistress where she sat.

“Good girl” Lady Ecks replied “and that should serve, Oh, she won’t move now. Mmm, that added stretch does make her ass curve nicely though, doesn’t it”. Ariel began to blush a little, expecting Miss Oh to make some equally embarrassing reply – but then suddenly cried out in pain and shock. Miss Oh had said nothing – but had without warning spanked her, once, very hard.

Ariel tried to suppress a whimper. “Pretend to yourself if you wish, Morsel, but you fool no-one” she heard Mistress’ voice say. Ariel nearly jumped, would have if she were not bound, as she felt Miss Oh’s fingernail press into her again, into her stinging cheek, and begin to trace the outline of a small circle.

“That’s the red area”, Miss Oh said as she held up her fingers and thumb in a small circle to Lady Ecks “not so large, is it?” Ariel swallowed but did not reply.

“Little One, you mustn’t be rude” Lady Ecks said. “You really should have answered Oh’s question.”

“I’m sorry, Mistr-” Ariel began to say, before she bit off another cry as Miss Oh struck her again. Ariel cringed, feeling that familiar overpowering sting just beginning to subside when suddenly she was struck again! “Nnghh!” she cried, doing her best not to object.

Miss Oh’s nail began to trace a circle again – a larger circle. “Not a problem at all, Ecks, I wasn’t talking to her.” said Miss Oh “Warm already, but still not too large. How many more strokes would it take to make her entire ass red, do you suppose?”

Ariel felt panic rise in her – she understood Miss Oh’s question perfectly. There was not the slightest hint of consultation in Miss Oh’s voice – merely interest in whether Ariel’s guess would be accurate. Oh god, what should she say, if she suggested too high a number it would draw too many blows, but, but too low and she would be laughed at and punished…but where was the sensible middle, what could…

“Morsel, you are being rude again” Lady Ecks said just as Miss Oh’s hand whipped across Ariel’s cheek once again, harder, much much harder than before.

“NNNGGHHhh!!” Ariel cried out.

“Why does she keep thinking I’m talking to her, Ecks?” Miss Oh asked as her nail began to travel its course around Ariel’s cheek once more. Ariel gathered her senses and said

“I, I’m sorry Mistress, I, I will try to do better.”

“I am glad to hear it” she heard Mistress’ voice say “or Oh will begin to think you don’t like her spanking you…and you do like it, don’t you Morsel. You can feel those nerve endings cry out to you, can’t you, the sensations calling to your brain ‘yes, yes’, the overpowering surrender of it all, and most of all, the pain. You like the pain, Morsel, you like the way your ass cries out, the burning stinging demands it makes on you, the little voice in your head that says you can’t stand any more while making you want more. You want more, don’t you Morsel.”

Ariel blushed furiously, looking wordlessly at her Mistress. “Your expression is crystal clear, but not answer enough, Morsel” said Lady Ecks, raising an eyebrow like a stormcloud gathering. Ariel felt her head nodding, almost against her wishes, almost imperceptibly – but nodding nonetheless. Lady Ecks smiled. “Then you had best ask Oh politely, Little One”.

Ariel shifted her gaze, though she found she could not see back to Miss Oh. Her voice nearly breaking, Ariel said “Pl – plea -please, Mi-miss Oh, would, would you…spank me…a..again?”

Miss Oh smiled as her fingernail traced across Ariel’s stinging red cheek to the still-white other side. “Ecks, you have trained her well, what, what a charming request. And I can’t help but notice how uneven these cheeks are, one red, one white.” Ariel cringed a little as she felt Miss Oh’s fingernail slide down her buttock. “Shall I even them out?” she asked, looking at Lady Ecks as her nail slid towards Ariel’s thigh.

Ariel swallowed in nervous anticipation. “If – if you wish, Miss” she said.

“Tsk, tsk” tutted Miss Oh, “I take it back, Ecks. Still telling herself this is something other than her wishes? Disappointing, truly disappointing.” Miss Oh’s finger continued its slide downward and in. “We both know what I’m going to find when I reach between her legs.”

Ariel shut her eyes, mortified. She knew only too well how her body would betray her.

Miss Oh stepped closer – Ariel could feel her presence. She felt Miss Oh’s fingernail slide down, between her legs, she trembled as the nail slid along her labia, till Miss Oh spread her hand to cup Ariel’s mons, just the slightest pressure, throbbing slightly with her fingers. She ran her thumb along the length of Ariel’s lips, as though she were testing the sharpness of a blade. Ariel twitched, unconsciously sliding herself back towards Miss Oh’s thumb, her mind a jumble.

“Ariel! You were told not to move” Lady Ecks said. “I expect you to behave. Ignore, Little One, that you want to press yourself onto Oh, want to feel her thumb slip inside you, feel your slickness envelop it, grasping it into you. I know your wishes, Little One, know how you are longing to be taken, how you ache, helpless, needing, wanting to be invaded, aching, burning, wanting that thumb inside you, aren’t you Little One. But you are not to move.”

Ariel did not reply – had she opened her mouth she could only have screamed in frustration – but she did her best to still her body, which had begun to shift in expectation as Miss Oh’s hand began to move. She did cry out, then, a stifled cry of need, as suddenly she felt the hand withdrawn completely. Her embarrassment grew again, warring with her desire.

Like an answer to her need, Ariel felt skin on skin, felt her buttocks covered, realising with shock and delight that it was Miss Oh, that she was naked somehow, that she had stepped her willowy caramel-skinned form intimately close, her hips bracketing themselves around Ariel’s buttocks. She felt her need grow as Miss Oh folded herself forward, her slender frame layering herself onto Ariel’s smaller form, like a sheet flowing down onto a freshly made bed. Ariel squeezed her eyes tightly shut as she felt Miss Oh’s breath, felt Miss Oh’s arms stretched out over hers, the lightest, slightest, most delightful little kiss tingling on the back of her neck, felt the electric delight of Miss Oh’s nipples firmly touch her then graze lightly down the length of her back as Miss Oh drew her body tormentingly, teasingly, torturously away, leaving her aching and burning with need.

Ariel heard a scraping sound and opened her eyes to see Mistress push a decorated wooden box across the floor with her foot. She saw Miss Oh, stunning in her nakedness, walk to the box, and watched as she lifted the lid and drew out an item. Ariel’s eyes widened in genuine concern as she saw what it was. Miss Oh had withdrawn a strap-on, but, well, not just any strap-on. She watched as Miss Oh began to attach the straps, her eyes fixed on the dildo extending out the front.

It was long, not, not extraordinarily long but, still, longer than anyone she had actually been with. But that was not the issue. What concerned Ariel so was its girth. It started out, well, the head was pretty normal in size – she could see getting her mouth around that, she thought to herself before blushing inwardly as she realised how she had unconsciously measured it – but it got much wider, and by the base it – Ariel twitched – well it was probably thicker than her wrist! She was filled with dismay. She was concerned whether it would – oh god, Miss Oh was done putting it on! – it was so, so big, she feared it would hurt.

She held her breath, trembling with fear, as she heard and felt Miss Oh walk behind her. She could feel Miss Oh close, as she unconsciously spread her feet a little. Her skin began to tingle – god, Miss Oh was not touching her yet, but she could tell, she felt, she just knew, it was between her legs, just, just – threatening. She almost jumped when she heard Mistress’ voice again.

“You’re right, Morsel, it is very big – especially compared to you”. Ariel was too agitated to notice her mind being read. “But that isn’t your real fear. You need to cum, don’t you Little One, your body aches to be taken, I see your hips thrusting longingly upward even now. You need to cum, Little One, you need it, and you are afraid that thrusting alone will not do it – it never does for you, does it, Little One?” Lady Ecks laughed at the amazement which formed on Ariel’s face. Ariel was sure – she was sure! she had never told Mistress that! She liked it – liked being filled, being – mmm – so filled, of course – well, maybe not with, that thing, she thought – but it just was not enough on its own for her. But she had never told that to Mistress!

Ariel was jerked back to her situation as she felt the strap-on bob upward, tapping at her lips. Miss Oh held the dildo in her hand, sliding it along the length of Ariel’s pussy, teasing her, tapping upward lightly again and again. She stifled a moan as Lady Ecks spoke again.

“Of course, Morsel, if you are too worried, you do have choices.” Lady Ecks leant down to open the box again, the lid towards Ariel so that she could not see in. She rummaged for a moment, then said “Oh wouldn’t mind using this instead, I’m sure, if you prefer – no need to crane your neck, Little One, I’m not going to let you see what it is. But it’s your choice.”

Ariel gasped as the head of the strap-on pressed just a little more firmly, separating her lips a trifle as it slid along them, then withdrawing. Oh god, thought Ariel, what’s in the box? It will be worse, I know it will be worse, it’s always worse, why do I always pick it? She moaned a little as the strap-on pressed harder, a touch harder, wriggled a little, felt the slickness of her lips draw apart then slip back together. But if I don’t pick it, Ariel thought, I, I’ll wonder, it might – this time it might be – and oh god, this strap-on, it’s, it’s so, I don’t think I can – she gasped again as she felt the head of the strap-on slip nearly inside her, realised she was on tiptoes, pushing her buttocks in the air, changing her angle, making herself accessible, opened, usable.

It, it might be a vibrator, Ariel thought to herself, that, that would – she gasped as the head slid out once more – but, but what if, oh Lord, Mistress was capable of anything, it might not be for – it could be – a, a whip, or even a cattle prod, for god’s sake – she gasped even louder as the head of the strap-on slid inside her, only just inside, but in, undeniably in. Ariel moaned and closed her eyes.

Miss Oh chuckled. “I think she’s made her choice, Ecks”. Miss Oh reached out to place a hand, palm flat, fingers spread, gently across the small of Ariel’s back, steadying her in place “At least, I’ve made it for her”. Miss Oh teasingly slid her hips back the tiniest trifle, drawing the strap-on from Ariel’s pussy and a stifled cry of objection from Ariel’s lips. Lady Ecks smirked, and leaned down closer to Ariel’s face.

“You want it back in, don’t you Little One?” Ariel moaned her concurrence as Miss Oh slid forward once again, the strap-on slipping quickly inside her but stopping unsatisfyingly early. “It’s not enough but it’s very good, isn’t it.” Her eyes still shut, Ariel began to nod, then winced as with a single movement Miss Oh slid the strap-on a half-inch further in. It was getting – wide – she thought to herself with a thrilled dismay. She tried to relax her muscles, to accommodate it, knowing that there was much more to come, that – her Mistress’ voice interrupted her thoughts again.

“So very big, Morsel, very big already, but you want more, it’s written on your face as clear as day.” With a small chuckle, Miss Oh said “the twitching going on back here is a pretty clear message too, Ecks – watch this” as she quickly nudged her hips forward another half-inch, undoing all Ariel’s attempts to relax as she tightened up sharply again, constricting around the intruder, gasping softly.

“You feel it filling you, don’t you Little One, feel yourself stretching, so good, so needy, wanting more and more, aren’t you Little One, ready, knowing, waiting to feel it – thrusting into you deeper, ready, ready – now!” Ariel cried out in alarm, her body, her mind ready, wanting, waiting for the thrust – but Miss Oh instead pulled back out an inch and more, leaving her aching. Ariel felt like her body would burst into flames.

She had no more than managed to begin to feel the longing, the aching, when Miss Oh slid forward again slowly, not thrusting, not suddenly, just a nice, gradual slide…further…further …further…oooooohhhh! The strap-on slid in deeper than ever as Ariel moaned more loudly than ever. Miss Oh slowed her hips, then began to slide back out again, gradually, slowly, her hand on Ariel’s back holding her in place. She looked down at Ariel’s face, screwed up tightly with tension and desire, and smiled to herself. She began a slow rhythm – in – out – in – out – each stroke delicately drawn, a brushstroke spreading desire, each time filling Ariel that tiny millimetre further. Ariel’s world shrank to the pulsings in her pussy, so full, so stretched, and yet so needy for more. Miss Oh threw her own head back, nearly feeling the pleasure herself from this faux cock, which, coated as it was with Ariel’s slickness, was still dry for the bottom third of its length.

“So needy” she heard Mistress say, “so desperate for release, Morsel, but you are not permitted. You understand me, don’t you Morsel?” Ariel, her mouth open but her eyes squeezed shut, did her best to nod.

Miss Oh, the strap-on nearly withdrawn, paused in her rhythm, only her hand, the head, and her Mistress’ command still holding Ariel in place. The stillness, the fearful anticipation, the excited motionlessness was palpable in the air. Ariel opened her mouth and cried out – in truth, only a moan was audible. But in her head, in her mind, she had said “oh god, oh god, I know you’re going to do it, I can’t take it, I can’t, but please, please, you’re going to do it anyway, oh please do it, please, do it to me now, please I want it so much!!” Miss Oh’s feet shuffled a little, and then she began, slowly, more slowly than before, to slide in. Ariel tried not to tense, unsuccessfully, sensing that this thrust would be different.

“Not yet, Morsel,” the serene voice said firmly and with just the slightest hint of amusement, “you will know when”.

The strap-on slid, like a glacier, long, slow and inexorable, filling Ariel again, its slick length slipping into her, past the already slick portion, further in, stretching her, further, widening her. Ariel gasped in air, more and more, her breath drawn in short bursts, her face a pained grimace, till finally it was in, she felt Miss Oh’s hips once more pressed to her buttocks, the dildo was lodged, berthed, she was filled. Ariel dared not move, and she lay there panting, her body twitching.

“Soon, Morsel, soon”, Mistress said and Ariel knew what was coming. She felt her pulse quicken with the knowledge, the certain knowledge, of what Mistress would say. “Your body, Little One, your mind, your will, your submission…” Ariel felt her body tense as the words filled her, took her closer to that edge, past it, but somehow not falling. Her Mistress’s voice was a tightrope, and Ariel knew that she was suspended helplessly over a chasm, held securely by a strong and loving hand. She knew she would not fall – not till she was meant to.

At that moment Ariel felt Miss Oh’s hand leave the small of her back – no, not quite leave. One by one her fingers gave up contact with Ariel’s taut skin, till only one finger, one fingernail remained, which began to continue that trail down her back it had begun so long ago. “Oh god!” Ariel thought, and she knew – she feared – what was coming. The nail trailed down, meandering its slow way along, crossing the fabric of the corset to contact her flesh again, reaching her cheeks, nudging its way between them.

Mistress’s voice continued “…your pain, your pleasure, your orgasm, Little One – all of them yours, but you…” “Oh My GOD!” Ariel barely managed to think to herself, knowing just what was coming, longing for it, begging for it, waiting on edge, on that delicious edge for the fulfilment. The nail – god, the nail! – descended further, impertinencing itself closer and closer, the sharpness – Ariel’s mind screamed to her, but whether it said “oh god no!” or “yes please yes!” even she could not tell, as in a blinding glorious moment she felt the nail scrape along her explosive nether button just as she heard Mistress’s voice nearly sing with joy the words “you, Little One, are MINE!”

From a distance, from a source she could not place exactly, Ariel heard screams. The screams weren’t distant, she realised, she was distant, and the screams were not pain, they were pleasure. Those guttural noises of unrestrained delight, somehow almost musical, were filled with a rapture that Ariel envied. And as her vision began to clear and her thoughts coalesced enough for her to form the thought, she realised to her surprise that the voice was hers, that the rapture was hers, that her body was exploding with a sensation so far beyond pleasure, beyond orgasm, beyond submission, that she had no words for it. She felt her body taken, her mind wiped clean, her will to think for herself or control her body to any degree abandoned, as she threw herself on the physical and mental sensations, riding their waves as they used her and took her and buffeted her about till she collapsed, unconscious, her hips sinking down, her muscles useless, her body twitching, her mind unable to form a more coherent thought than “ohgodohgodohgodohgod”.

“Hah! You see, Ecks, I told you! Pay up!” cried Miss Oh in triumph.

Lady Ecks smirked. “I think not, Oh. I think you’ll find I made her cum, and without once touching her. You, on the other hand, skated awfully close to the rules, don’t you think?”

Miss Oh laughed. “I said I wouldn’t talk to her, Ecks, not that I wouldn’t talk. And you’re fooling yourself if you think it wasn’t me who made her cum” Miss Oh said, smiling with amusement as she slapped the strap-on which still dangled in front of her. “This little slut is not the delicate flower that she pretends to be.”

“I don’t deny that, Oh, but she came when she did because she knew she had my permission then, and not before” said Lady Ecks calmly.

Miss Oh laughed. “Ecks, you’re incorrigible! Tell yourself what you need to, but you’ll find out differently when we ask her!”

Lady Ecks smiled. “Perhaps, Oh, but not an option just at the moment”. Lady Ecks aimed a finger in Ariel’s direction.

The small pale figure lay curled up on the table, face resting on one hand, one nipple poking coyly out of the crook of an arm, legs and knees drawn happily up. If it were not for the gentle rise and fall of her breasts, she might look like a sculpture of some sleeping nymph – if any sculptor could tempt such an expression of perfect happiness out of cold marble.

Lady Ecks and Miss Oh looked fondly at the figure for a moment, then Miss Oh laughed lightly. “All right, then, we can’t ask her. But that leaves the score at 2-2 still.”

“Indeed”, replied Lady Ecks, turning to the decorated wooden case nearby “it seems we’ll need another tie-breaker”. She rummaged in the case, drawing out in succession a thick paddle, a cat-o-nine-tails, a heavy wooden spoon, a hairbrush and a riding crop. “We’ll give her ten minutes to recover, I think. I’ll even let you have first pick”, Lady Ecks said, smiling. Miss Oh was already holding the crop in one hand and the paddle in the other, mentally weighing their merits.