by Downing Street
The tube train rumbled along. Shannon was dozing in her seat, her weekly novel open in her lap. It was the end of another long, boring day. Shannon lived near the end of the line, near Debden Station. She rode the tube for forty-five minutes every day getting to work and the same going home. At least she didn’t have to change trains.
It was a quarter to six on a Tuesday afternoon. The peak of rush hour was over, but the train was still half full. Most of the seats were taken. A few people were standing in the aisles, swaying in unison every time the train rumbled over a bump. Shannon ignored all of them, as tube-riders always do. She read her novel.
At Chancery Lane a few more people got on. A young man sat down in the seat beside her. Shannon ignored him too. The train accelerated out of the station.
“What’s that you’re reading?” the fellow beside her said.
Shannon’s shoulders sagged. She didn’t feel at all like engaging in conversation, especially with a total stranger who liked to talk up random women. Lame pick-up lines were an occupational hazard for a young woman riding the underground. The book helped.
“It’s a novel,” she said to the figure beside her. “It’s about a woman who talks to some stranger on the train and regrets it forever.”
He only chuckled. “That’s pretty good. I don’t suspect you realize that the majority of romantic relationships begin from chance encounters in unexpected places. Something like 76% if I remember rightly.”
“Well, this isn’t one of them,” Shannon shot back. Couldn’t this bloke take a hint?
He chuckled again. It was truly annoying. “Yes, I suppose not. Anyway I made up that number. Hey, my name is Damien. Who are you?”
“Shannon,” Shannon replied. She regretted it instantly. She never gave her name to strangers.
The man extended a hand. Shannon shook it tentatively. She looked at him for the first time. He was young, probably mid-twenties like her, and neither handsome nor bland. Brown hair and a goatee that was like a decade out of fashion. Casually but neatly dressed in khakis and a brown shirt with an open sports jacket. He seemed completely at ease.
Shannon could appreciate his relaxed style at least. She liked to be comfortable. Shannon herself was a slender young woman, passably attractive if she worked at it, which she seldom did. She was dressed in her work clothes, a loose gold-brown top and jacket over brown pants and ballet flats. A white belt gave it a bit of flare. She wore her sandy-brown hair pinned back.
“Delighted,” she said coolly. “Now if you will excuse me . . .” She indicated the paperback in her hands.
The man smiled. He seemed unconcerned by her rebuttals. “It’s not her best work,” he said thoughtfully. “Even a boiler-plate romance novelist has good days and bad days. I mean, come on, Evan almost falls for Sue-Ellen despite all her backstabbing. It’s not very convincing.”
“You’ve read it?” The target audience for this writer didn’t tend to include people with deep voices.
“No,” he said, oddly. “But isn’t it a coincidence that the suffering heroine is also named Shannon?”
“Oh, go away, she is not. Her name is " She stopped, frowning. She glanced down at the open book in front of her. It described Shannon’s latest heartbreak in great detail. Of course the girl was named Shannon. How could she have forgotten that?
Thinking back, the descriptions of the girl in the book were uncannily like her, right down to the freckles. “You know, that is a coincidence,” she said. “Weird.”
Damien shrugged. “It happens more often than you think. Shannon is a popular name. They even named a river in Ireland after you.”
Evidently that was a joke. Shannon reminded herself why talking to strangers on the underground was a bad idea. “Indeed.” she remarked.
“If you don’t mind me saying so, Miss Shannon who likes over-wrought romance novels, you sound a little careworn. Dull job, maybe?”
“What do you do?”
“I’m an assistant editor at Blackburn and Thrumb. Small publishing house.”
“Really? I dated a magazine editor for a while. It didn’t work out. The woman had too many issues.”
Shannon blinked at him. “I’d like to get back to my book.”
“Tell me something: If you didn’t have to go to work, if you woke up one morning and discovered you could go anywhere, do anything, change anything you didn’t like, what would you do? Where would you go?”
If that was a pick-up line, at least it was original. She thought about it. “I’d go to an island. A lush, undisturbed tropical island, somewhere in the South Pacific. It would have a tree-covered mountain in the middle and pink sand beaches all around. Palm trees waving in scented breezes, and rainbow-coloured birds everywhere. The sound of the surf in the distance.
“At night, cool enough to sleep out in the open under a velvet canopy of darkness lit up by a thousand pinpoints of starlight. I’d have a big, airy house right by the beach with giant windows in every direction and sugar feeders for the hummingbirds. I’d go running along the beach in the morning, or swim nude in the lagoon, surrounded by wildly coloured reef fishes, then simply lounge in a beach chair, reading good books and sipping exotic tropical drinks and watching the sun set, long ripples of orange and gold across the sea.”
She stopped talking. She put three fingers over her mouth so she wouldn’t start up again. Where had all that come from? The intensity of her own fantasy surprised her. For a few seconds, it seemed she could really feel the breeze on her face and the sand between her toes, smell the tropical air and hear the ocean swells pounding against the outer reef. She opened her eyes. The mundane reality of her evening tube ride returned.
“That’s pretty good,” Damien said. “I’ve been to the Pacific islands myself several times. They are idyllic.”
“I’ve never been,” Shannon said. “Someday.”
He stroked his triangular beard. “There’s one thing though. Your fantasy island is empty. You imagine it with only you. No companions, no friends, no locals even. Like that guy in the movie, stranded alone on an unknown island. That won’t work, you see. It’s lonely. We need human contact; we need to see and be around other people, even if we don’t talk with them. It’s part of being human.”
She cocked an eyebrow. “You’re a psychologist or something?”
He smiled. “Anthropologist. Well, I was, anyway.”
“What happened?” And why was she still talking to this guy? Didn’t she say she wanted to get back to her book?
He looked evasive. “Let’s say my career took an unexpected turn. All for the best, I assure you. But I discovered that human contact is important. I’m fine by myself, you see, but I find it, well, therapeutic to immerse myself in other people’s lives. It helps me maintain my own humanity, if that makes any sense.”
Actually, it didn’t. “You’re saying it keeps you sane to meddle in other people’s lives? Like fooling me into blurting out my private dream about living on a tropical island?” She gave him an accusing look.
“Meddling? A tad judgmental, don’t you think. I simply enjoy the human interplay that happens all around us. Take that fellow over there.” He pointed with his chin toward a middle-aged fellow hanging from a ceiling strap as the train sped along. “See how he’s standing behind that woman. Do you see what he’s doing?”
Shannon looked. “He’s reading over her shoulder. I hate when people do that.”
“No he’s not. He’s looking at her tits.”
Shocked, Shannon looked again. Damien was right. The woman, a twenty-something brunette in white sweater and black leggings, was reading something on her mobile and the guy behind her was standing close, looking over her shoulder. It was obvious now that he was really looking down her sweater.
It would be hard not to look. Her sweater was tight and dangerously low scooped. It half-uncovered a pair of grand and spectacular breasts. Somehow Shannon hadn’t noticed the boob show before. “Well, you’re right. What a perv.”
“He’s not a pervert. He’s a guy. Which means he’s human. Besides, she doesn’t mind.”
“How do you know?” She flicked a lock of hair off one ear.
“Because she knows he’s looking and she doesn’t move away. She’s not even turning to give him a dirty look. She’s pretending she doesn’t notice so he can get an eyeful.”
“Oh you’re having me on!”
“Don’t believe me? Watch her hips.”
Shannon watched. The woman was swaying back and forth with the motion of the train. It seemed though, that her movements were pushing her backwards, accidentally but repeatedly pressing her latex-covered behind against the man behind her. He didn’t move away.
Shannon gasped. “She’s why she’s ”
“That’s right. She’s trying to turn him on. Right here on the train. And it’s working.”
Shannon could see that it was. The man’s erection was hidden by his trousers, but was apparent to anyone who looked the right place. Clearly the woman with the great tits knew about it. While Shannon watched she pressed the crack of her ass right against his bulge. She flexed up and down several times. The man leaned forward, biting his lip.
The train stopped at Liverpool Street. Several people got off, more got on. The man used the bustle as an excuse to move closer to the woman in front of him. She still didn’t move away.
“That’s disgusting!” Shannon whispered.
“No, it’s human. Sexual desire underpins all interpersonal relationships. We sublimate it, repress it, restate it, deny it but it’s always there. Besides, I happen to like women in tights.” He grinned boyishly.
Shannon noticed where he was looking. She followed his gaze to her legs, which she discovered were dressed in shiny black leggings much like those of the gyrating woman. Her white ballet flats contrasted fetchingly.
What’s this? Why was she wearing leggings? Hadn’t she gone to work in her brown pants outfit? Shannon never wore leggings to the office; she didn’t consider them appropriate for the workplace. Besides she liked to be comfortable. Yet there was no denying she was sitting there in a pair of wet-look, spandex leggings that she didn’t even remember buying.
No, wait. She did remember buying them, now that she thought about it. She had gone out after work with her friend Tilly from the office. Tilly was an upbeat, outgoing woman in counterpoint to Shannon’s more reserved persona. It was Tilly who convinced her to buy some shiny leggings.
“These would look great on you,” Tilly said, as they browsed through a trendy boutique. “This shop has the best selection in the city.”
Shannon looked at the bit of black spandex in her friend’s hand. She said: “They’re too thin! Too revealing. Besides I like to be comfortable.”
Tilly would not be dissuaded. “Try them. Trust me, you’ll look smashing. You have fabulous legs. I can only dream of having legs like yours.”
Shannon raised an eyebrow at Tilly’s frank, and frankly admiring, opinion of her stems. But she tried on a pair of leggings. Even in the harshly lit dressing room mirror, she assessed that Tilly was right. Legs like hers and an ass like hers—were made to be shown off. A pair of sexy leggings did the job nicely. She bought several. Tilly was delighted.
Sitting on the rumbling tube train, Shannon cocked her head in puzzlement. She remembered distinctly buying these leggings. Why had she been convinced she didn’t own any? She didn’t remember wearing them to work, that was certain. How odd.
She noticed a man across the train checking out her legs. So was Damien. The attention was unexpectedly pleasant.
“Look,” she said, “There’s a big difference between a woman wanting to look attractive and—well, carrying on in public.” She gestured toward the standing couple, who were still covertly pelvis-grinding. The woman’s eyes were closed, her mouth half-open.
“Of course there is,” Damien said. “My point is only that sex is always in the air, or in the back of our minds, whenever men and women share the same space. It’s in our genes. Look over there.”
This time he indicated two people sitting in the front-facing seats across the way. The woman by the window was perhaps in her thirties, and looked vaguely Asian. Her black hair was in curls. She was clearly an office worker, looking sharp but modest in a knee-length, pale green skirt-suit. Her legs were decked out in dark, fishnet hose. The young man beside her was tall, nondescript and looking bored. While gazing off in the distance, he was “accidentally” brushing his hand against the woman’s leg. She made no move to stop him.
“Oh my goodness,” Shannon whispered, “he’s doing it too.”
“Indeed he is. He’ll do a lot more, I think, if she doesn’t protest.”
“This is . . . impossible. Not twice in the same car. This kind of thing only happens in low-budget movies. Or couples pretending to be strangers.”
He shrugged. “Perhaps. Let’s see if those two are the only ones.”
The next stop was Mile End station. The doors opened and people got on and off. Among the new entrants was a striking blonde, dressed in a very short, leopard-pattern skirt and a matching jacket. She wore high heels, also leopard-pattern, and carried a silver purse. Instantly a man got to his feet. He was stuttering as he offered her his seat.
The sexy woman thanked him demurely and sat down. Every man in the car was looking her over. The skirt was snug around her rump. Sitting down it slid up her legs to the neat of her opaque hose. The background temperature seemed to rise several degrees.
“See her there? The pretty one?” Damien tilted his head toward the blonde. She had taken a mobile out of her purse and began thumbing a text message.
“What about her?” Automatically, Shannon compared the newcomer’s legs to her own. Shannon won.
“Maybe she’s heading out for the evening. She has a date, or she’s meeting her girlfriends at a club. You think?”
“What you may not realize is that she is wearing a portable vibrator, tucked up under her knickers. She has to wear it. Someone else has a remote control. He can activate it whenever he wants.”
“Oh, don’t be daft!”
“Don’t believe me? Watch for a minute.”
Shannon did. Nothing happened. The woman continued to text, oblivious to the admiring men around her.
Shannon was about to say something else when the woman suddenly froze. Her thumbs stopped moving. She leaned forward, stiffly, and pressed her knees together. She stayed that way for at least ten seconds, twitching forward and back A look of distraction crossed her beautiful face.
Just as abruptly, she relaxed. She smoothed down her skirt. She looked around furtively.
“He just sent her a good one,” Damien commented.
“I . . . I don’t believe you,” Shannon said, less confidently than she hoped. “Who would do that to her? Her boyfriend?”
“Her controller. Her owner, you might say. He found a way to bind her with the force of her own sexuality, like an invisible golden cord. She changes the batteries and puts the vibrator on every evening, or during the day if he tells her too. She can’t help herself. The appeal of primordial, physical pleasure, amplified by pitching it against social convention, is too powerful to resist. Oh, there she goes again.”
The girl across the way was twitching again, as if she had a stomach cramp. This time she couldn’t suppress a mewling sound in the back of her throat. She clutched her mobile tightly in both hands. Her eyelids fluttered as she rode the secret sensations.
Shannon brushed back her long hair nervously. “She’s getting really . . . turned on. On the train. That is so . . . strange.” What was especially strange was that Shannon was getting turned on by watching. She kept that fact to herself.
Her companion turned to look at her. “Oh?” he said mildly. “You’ve never worn a sex toy under your clothes then?”
“Of course not!”
“I see. So that cord hanging out of your purse is for your tunes, then is it?”
Shannon looked down at her purse. A thin blue cord was hanging out one end. She opened the purse and followed the cord back to a pretty blue, egg-shaped bob at one end, and a tiny control at the other, about the size of the key fob for her Kia. “I . . . I don’t own this!” she exclaimed. “Someone must have put that there by mistake. Or something. I can’t . . . I would never ”
Rose-scented air freshener. The ladies’ room in her office tower was clean and bright. “Are you sure this is a good idea?” Tilly asked. She was standing in one of the toilet stalls, with Shannon beside her. Shannon was helping her adjust her tight fashion jeans so the bulge from the vibrator wouldn’t show.
Shannon was dressed in one of her usual work outfits, a stretchy red pullover and shiny black leggings with red suede ankle boots. She liked to be comfortable. That didn’t mean she couldn’t look hot.
“Come on, this will be fun,” Shannon reassured her friend. “You keep saying these meetings are too long and your attention wanders. This way, you can have a distraction to keep you awake. I’ve done it myself. Really! Oh here, you don’t need this.” She slid her fingers down the blue cord hanging out of Tilly’s underthings and pulled it out of its socket in the egg.
“What are you doing? I need that to run the gizmo.”
“No you don’t. I’ll do that for you. If you don’t know when its coming the stimulation is all the more effective. See, the remote is wireless.”
“Wait, Shannon, no I don’t—Ooooh!” She pursed her lips in surprise as the egg began to hum.
“See what I mean?” her friend said, grinning wickedly. “Now get your jeans on honey, the meeting’s about to begin.”
“OK, let me get this zipper up, and oh my, that’s really tight in there.”
“All the better, it keeps it nice and snug against your cunny. There, you’re all set.”
Tilly was still nervous. She looked at the control fob in Shannon’s right hand. “You you won’t let me embarrass myself, will you girlfriend?” she pleaded, as they walked out of the room.
“Of course not. Trust me.” She smiled innocently.
Back on the train, Shannon pondered the blue egg in her hand. “Did that really happen?” she said out loud.
“Did what really happen?”
“I . . . I was remembering . . . playing a joke on Tilly. I convinced her to wear a vibrator down her pants during a scheduling meeting, then drove her crazy with it. She kept moaning and gasping until the director asked if she was feeling ill. Poor girl almost had an orgasm right there in front of everybody.
“But . . . I would never . . . Tilly is my friend . . .”
The memory was absolutely clear though. And hot. She could recall the delicious look of embarrassment and heat across Tilly’s face as she squirmed and gasped and bit her lip across the table whenever Shannon thumbed a button on the remote. She hadn’t told her friend that the vibrator had three intensity levels. Shannon even remembered getting so turned on by watching that she had to slip a hand under the table to tease her own slit through her paint-thin latex tights.
How could that be true when she was sure she never wore leggings to the office?
Except today, anyway.
Something didn’t fit here.
Her ruminations were interrupted by movement within the train. The standing couple were still at it. He had one arm draped over her shoulder. His hand was kneading and fondling one plump breast through the material of her sweater. She was obviously sliding the crack of her ass up and down against his hard-on. Her towering platform sandals brought her closer to his height. Shannon would have sworn she was wearing loafers earlier. As Shannon watched, the woman leaned backward to share a wet, over-the-shoulder kiss with the man who was groping her.
Shannon said: “God I wish those two would get a room.” Watching them was turning her on much more than she cared to admit.
Damien chuckled. “Not only them. Take a look over there.”
She looked where he was pointing. A couple of schoolgirls were standing in the aisle, chatting and laughing on their way home. Both were dressed in a private school uniform that Shannon recognized as belonging to St. Jacques Le Petit, a school near Stratford station. The tartan skirts were much shorter than Shannon expected for a school uniform. The girl facing away from her was flashing glimpses of her tight, white panties every time the train swayed. They both wore glossy white kneesocks and black pams with elevated block heels.
The girls looked to be seniors, and both were very pretty. The girl whose asscheeks were fascinating Shannon’s end of the car had long, straight, brown hair flowing down her back. Her companion, whose tiny tartan skirt was doubtless providing the same entertainment to the other end of the car, had a maze of red curls on her head, and a pair of enormous brown eyes.
The girls were facing each other, standing close. As Shannon watched, they leaned together to share a long, wet, tongue-sucking kiss. They were caressing each other with their free hands.
Shannon’s eyes went wide. Had she boarded the pervert train by mistake? “Those two they’re making out in the middle of the aisle.”
Even more oddly, nobody seemed to be taking any particular notice. A man reading a newspaper looked up long enough to scan the twin pairs of coltish teenage legs, then calmly returned to his paper, smiling. Right beside him the two schoolgirls were making audible slurping sounds.
“Sabrina and Hayley,” said Damien. “Not unusual for girls that age to be curious about other female bodies, as well as their own, developing, sexual appetites. Course, a few inhibitions had to be lowered to get them to act on their impulses. Or a lot of inhibitions. Whatever. They do look adorable, don’t they?”
The girls looked like stars in a high-quality porn movie; that was more Shannon’s impression. She looked at him suspiciously. “What are you talking about? How do you know their names?”
He brushed her question aside. “Never mind about that. Look over there. I told you he wouldn’t stop.”
Shannon looked at the seat across the aisle, where the tall man was still pretending he wasn’t feeling up the shapely office worker beside him. His hand was now on the top of her leg. The woman’s skirt had a long gore up the side, edged in gold stitching. It provided an easy route of access to the man’s sliding fingers. While Shannon watched, his wrist disappeared up under her skirt.
The woman made no move to stop him. Her nostrils flared. She moved the leather purse in her lap to make his hand less obvious.
“I don’t believe this,” Shannon insisted. “What’s going on here?” She felt tingles in her Italian silk knickers. She slid her rump forward and back against the seat, an inch or so each way.
Damien said: “Human life is going on here. At a basic level we are all programmed to respond to the opposite sex. We are sexual creatures. We may suppress these urges, so that society may function, but it’s like bottling steam. The more we try to push it down, the more our sexual nature asserts itself. Sex is the man behind the curtain, the ghost in the machine.”
Shannon looked around the car. The hottie in latex tights was being less and less subtle in her attentions to the man behind her. She was still pressing her ass against him, now lifting herself on her six-inch platform heels to goose herself against his woody. He had a hand down her sweater. He was tweaking and squeezing one rotund breast that has half slipped out of her bra. She leaned her head back to kiss the side of his neck.
Shannon felt the press of her own tits against the tight white top she was wearing. She knew well enough how tempting a heavy rack could be to men, given her own generous gifts. For a second, something about that thought seemed . . . peculiar, but she was too distracted to take note of it. She could feel her nips stiffening, as they always did at the first whiff of sex. She squirmed in her seat.
Sitting next to the gyrating couple, a man was openly reading an adult magazine. It had lots of big pictures. The man had one hand in his lap, under the open pages. In the seat behind him, the tall man was still feeling up the Asian beauty. She had her own delicate hand on his forearm, guiding him higher. A few feet behind them the schoolgirls were panting and kissing and tongue-dancing. One girl’s white blouse was half undone. She had a hand right on top of her friend’s inadequate skirt. She slid it back and forth across her bum.
In another seat, the blonde babe in the leopard microskirt was finding it more and more difficult to maintain her composure. Her invisible vibrator continued to torment her. She was leaning forward, one hand gripping the seat in front of her, panting audibly. Long hair had fallen across her face.
Shannon looked up to the row of advertisements above the seats. One showed a smiling student at some local college. Her orbulant tits were falling out of a white half-top even skimpier than Shannon’s. When did schools start advertising like that? Another sign showed a shapely honey modeling the latest fashion in skinny jeans. She was lying prone with her feet waving in the air. She wore black velvet ankle boots below, and nothing at all above. The photographer had artfully positioned one arm to half cover her naked breasts. “DenHER Jeans,” read the copy, “They aren’t made for him.”
Something really wasn’t right here.
“My god it’s everywhere,” Shannon whispered. “I . . . I don’t understand. Why have I never seen this before?”
The man beside her gave his annoying chuckle. “Don’t be disingenuous. Of course you have. You’ve even promoted it.”
The room was mostly occupied by a long oak table, with at least a dozen people seated around it. Big windows along one wall provided a view over the city. “Is there anything else?” the director asked, looking about the board room. “Yes, Shannon?”
“I I have an idea,” Shannon said nervously. “A new, uhm, market opportunity.”
“Well, let’s hear it, let’s hear it my dear.” The director smiled warmly. Men were always smiling and friendly around Shannon. His eyes lingered on the cleavage tumbling out of her V-neck sweater.
Shannon smiled back. She pulled her yard-long hair over her shoulder, a deliberately feminine gesture that incidently improved his view up front. “Listen everybody,” she said, turning now to address the others around the table.
She began her prepared speech. “There’s an amazing niche opportunity in front of us; a readership that isn’t being served and that our competitors have barely touched. It’s a vast market with huge growth potential, but easily accommodated with relatively low risk. What’s more, it’s packageable as both low-cost softcovers and E-books.”
She paused for effect. She fixed her gaze on each of her co-workers in turn. “Well, what is this amazing opportunity?” someone wanted to know. “What are you talking about?”
“I’m talking,” Shannon said carefully, “about women’s erotica.”
A gasp from around the table. Shannon had expected that. “Shannon!” interjected the director. “Don’t be absurd. We’re a respectable publishing house, not Hampton Romances!”
“Yes we are,” Shannon agreed. She got to her feet. She stepped back from the table. The whole room got a good look at her legs below her black stretch miniskirt. “We’ve always been a respectable publishing house, Mr. Wilcrest,” she continued.
She strolled purposefully toward the director. Glossy dark hose highlighted her legs. “We’re so respectable, that we’re becoming irrelevant. The world is changing; we need to change with it. We’re soooo respectable, we’ve become uptight and old-fashioned.”
She advanced toward her employer, one perfect foot stepping in front of the other. She wore wedge-heeled sandals with blue velvet straps around her ankles. Her hips swayed gracefully. “Our market share is declining. We’re trapped in traditionalism.
“Meanwhile, a whole demographic of readers is passing us by. Women readers. Young, hip, liberated women who love to read and aren’t afraid to be sexy.” She lingered on that word, pursing her full lips into a kiss. “We can have those readers, all those frisky women, for our own. We can make them our steady clients, as loyal as puppies. If we provide them with a rich diet of hot, stimulating literature, they’ll read it, and love it, and come back for more.”
She was standing by the head of the table now. She leaned forward urgently, speaking directly to the director. “Doesn’t that sound like a worthwhile venture? Don’t you think we should grab this enormous opportunity before it gets away?”
“Whu well, I, I uh . . .” he sputtered. He looked like he very much wanted to grab the two enormous opportunities presented by Shannon’s straining yellow sweater.
“I never heard such an outlandish idea,” said another voice. It belonged to Trina, a bespectacled senior editor. “We will not publish pornography! It’s sexist and demeaning to women.”
“Perhaps it is,” Shannon agreed. “But erotica is written for women. It’s feminine, and feminist, and empowering. It allows modern, strong women to control their own fantasies instead of having them imposed by uncaring men; it helps them envision the scenes and emotions that excite them, that turn them on, that fuel their sexual fires. Imagine that, Trina! Imagine having your most sensuous desires, your innermost, earthiest dreams, rendered into prose by a writer who can make them come to vivid life.”
Trina was wide-eyed, captivated by the unexpected eloquence of her stacked assistant. She floundered, trying to think of something to say.
Shannon turned to the rest of the group. “Wouldn’t you love to read books like that? She reached into the pocket of her red jacket and pushed a button. At the far end of the table, Tilly moaned. She was wearing her happy egg under her brief skirt, as usual. Heads turned to look at her. She blushed scarlet.
Another editor spoke. His name was Terrance. “But but it’s still smut!” he declared. “Isn’t it?”
Shannon turned her devastating smile on him. “It’s erotica,” she replied, caressing the word. “It’s entirely different from what you imagine. It’s uninhibited, yes, but honest and real. It’s about feelings, and sensations, and that magical realm where the physical and the emotional intersect. Erotica is an art form, almost poetry. Erotica explores the depth and range of sensuality as only women can experience it.”
She still had her hand in her jacket pocket. She thumbed a different button. Another woman squealed. Shannon had convinced Rema, the head of layout, to join the happy club too. Tilly was looking almost composed again, so Shannon gave her another jolt, just for the heck of it.
“I can tell some of you like this idea,” Shannon teased.
“We would need writers,” said Renee, one of the marketing staff. She was a frizzy blonde with no dress sense and an unflappably steady demeanour. “Not one but several. We would need to launch several titles at once, and promote the new line.”
Shannon turned toward her. Standing at the head of the table, she leaned forward intently. She noticed the director leaning back to check out the view up her daringly short skirt, as her globes fascinated those in front. “You’re absolutely right. We would need authors, and good ones. But we’re in luck. I’ve done a bit of research, and the top two writers in the field, Alma Denton and J.J. Macalary, are really the same person. Her real name is Sylvia G. Hornstom. If we can convince her to write for us, we could launch our line with two big, big names a perfect pair.”
She kept her own big, perfect pair on display. Renee looked almost as fascinated as the gaping men around her. Shannon gave Rema another tingle; the girl’s excited gasps helped maintain the sexual tension in the room. “This would require . . . negotiations,” Renee said. “We don’t even know if this author is available.”
“Her current publisher isn’t treating her well,” Shannon replied. “If we offer her . . . an appealing package, I’m sure she’ll come over to us.” Shannon had no idea if that was true. She was confident she could persuade the author one way or another. She made a mental note to induct Renee into the happy club. The woman was far too serious.
Shannon wiggled her ass a little for the benefit of the director. She looked back at him over her shoulder. “Don’t you agree, Mr. Wilcrest?”
“Oh definitely,” the man said dreamily. “Splendid idea. Let’s offer her . . . an appealing package. There were murmurs of agreement from the charmed and turned-on group around the table.
“That . . . that never happened,” Shannon whispered, bewildered. She was sitting on the tube train again. “I’m a junior editor; I can’t launch new product lines.” The memory made no sense. She was certain she had never experienced a board meeting like that one, nor used her looks to sweet-talk her colleagues. She didn’t even know anyone named Sylvia G. Hornstom. So why did she remember it all so clearly? And dammit, why was the memory making her so steamy?”
“Oh don’t be so modest,” Damien said. He was smiling broadly. “PurpleProse Books are the biggest publishing event in years. Everybody’s reading them. Look around.”
Shannon looked around. The sexual hijinks in the car carried on unabated. The latex lovely was openly stroking herself against the man behind her, who had pulled down her sweater to reveal one ripe breast to the air. Her mobile phone was clenched in one hand, forgotten.
But even from where she sat, Shannon could see she had been reading Wicked Wives of Wickingham Way, one of the first titles in the new series. “It’s tasteless, appalling and outrageous,” a reviewer wrote, “and I devoured it all in one sitting.”
Behind the gyrating couple, the sophisticated Asian being felt up under her dress had another PurpleProse book open in her lap. Shannon recognized the distinctive purple covers. While she watched, the woman reached over to the stranger next to her and began fondling his cock through his trousers. The gorgeous blonde with the vibrator in her knickers was reading The Sister-In-Law, about which a different reviewer wrote: “I was breathing hard by page 27 and it’s 213 pages long!” She was no longer trying to hide her arousal; she pushed her skirt into her crotch with one hand, pressing the hidden dildo deeper into her cleft.
Everywhere she looked, Shannon found another passenger absorbed in one of Sylvia G. Hornstom’s sex-drenched novels. Even the man who Shannon thought had been reading a men’s magazine was in fact immersed in The Pleasure Persuaders, Hornstom’s first foray into science fiction. He was openly stroking himself with his free hand.
The advertisements overhead were different too. The model in stretch jeans was still lying on her stomach, high-heeled feet waving in the air. She was still topless. But now she had a purple-covered paperback spread out before her. One hand was holding the book, and sort of covering her breasts, while the other was out of sight, obviously busy down the front of her unbuttoned jeans. The look on her face was one of lustful rapture. The text underneath said: New PurpleProse Titles: Coming Soon.
Never mind the obvious double entente in the copy. Hadn’t that been an ad for designer jeans a few minutes ago?
In the aisle beneath the provocative poster, the leggy schoolgirls were too wrapped up in each other to have time to read both their uniform shirts were completely unbuttoned now but Shannon could see a purple corner protruding from one girl’s satchel. At once she found herself remembering how many high schools had tried to forbid their students from reading the new books, branding them variously trashy, degrading, shocking or simply “inappropriate”. The campaigns could hardly succeed when half the female teachers were practically inhaling PurpleProse books during every break period.
Negative publicity only amplified the success of the new book line. Every time a clergyman railed against their immorality, or another letter to the editor bewailed the decline in moral and literary standards, sales spiked higher. For publishers Blackburn and Thrumb, PurpleProse Books was a very profitable venture.
Shannon’s expressive face was wild with arousal and confusion. “This . . . this can’t be,” she cried. “It’s like . . . everything’s different.” Someone in the train moaned loudly, whether from the ribald imagery in her PurpleProse book or direct stimulation from someone feeling her up, Shannon couldn’t tell. She felt her nipples pressing against the fabric of her half-bra, tight with excitement. She looked at the man beside her. He had his arms stretched over the back of the seat, smiling smugly.
“I think you dropped this,” he said. He handed her a business card. It was one of hers. But under her name, instead of “Junior Editor”, it read: “Special Projects Editor, PurpleProse Books”
“Special Projects Editor?” Shannon said blankly. “What’s that? There’s no such title. I . . . mean, sure Mr. Wilcrest gave me my own office and a big promotion for bringing Sylvia Hornstom over to us but . . . wait, wait. That’s not right either . . . I didn’t ”
The late afternoon sun slanted through the windows of Shannon’s spacious new office. Soft music and a spray of fresh flowers gave the room a restful air. Sylvia G. Hornstom was seated, or more accurately sprawled, on the leather couch along one wall. An open bottle of fine sherry stood on the coffee table in front of her.
She said: “Shannon, y’r mazing! Where’d y’get all thesh wonnerful ideash?”
Hornstom was a stylish, thirtyish woman with short brown hair and a trim figure. She was wearing an attractive teal skirt-suit, short to show her legs. She had thrown off her shoes. She was trying to discuss key passages from one of her own books. She was having a jolly tough time of it.
For one thing, she was falling down drunk. Shannon’s love-slaves in the ever-growing Happy Club had been feeding her strong drinks from the moment she stepped into the building “just to have a chat” with a rival publishing house. For another thing, she was distractingly aroused. As the liquour moved the unsuspecting author from relaxed, to looped, to wasted, Shannon had laid on the sex appeal to convince her that switching to a new publisher would be a great career move. Now the woman was flopped limply on the couch, leaning heavily against Shannon, who had one hand on her knee and the other around her shoulders.
Shannon’s laptop was also sitting on the coffee table, beside the flowers. It was projecting a passage from Hornstom’s latest work on the far wall. She was probably too plastered to read it, but that didn’t matter. Shannon was whispering in her ear all the ways that various scenes from the book could be edited to be bolder, more evocative . . . more stimulating. Shannon’s emendations went far beyond the original text. Hornstom was breathing hard. “Mmmm, yesh,” she slurred, " nother hot idea!”
Shannon’s voice was like a feather tickling Hornstom’s most intimate places. She was fighting to stop staring at Shannon’s tits, spilling out of a V-necked red sweater. She only watched blearily as the hand on her knee migrated upward, pushing her skirt farther and farther up her thigh, while the other gently removed her jacket. The lips whispering steamy imaginings in her ear began to kiss and nibble.
By the time the shapely writer realized she was being seduced, it was already too late. Shannon’s left hand was far up her skirt, and her leg was rubbing against hers, nylon against nylon. Shannon’s right hand was still on her shoulder. Now it moved downward to unfasten the buttons on the other woman’s blouse, then deftly lower one bra strap. Hornstom turned to say something, perhaps to protest. But Shannon’s lips were there and abruptly they were pressed against hers in a deep and suckling kiss.
While Hornstom bucked and squirmed in surprise, Shannon’s right hand snaked into her brassiere at the same moment the hand under her skirt found the treasure it was seeking. Overwhelmed on all fronts, bowled over by lust, liquor and lurid prose, the woman could only gasp her surrender against Shannon’s lips.
“None of this happened!” Shannon shouted, back on the train. For a moment faces turned toward her, startled. “I mean . . . it couldn’t . . . that’s not . . . right.” She had never felt the slightest attraction toward other women. Yet she was flushed with arousal from the memory of how she had signed the first and best writer for PurpleProse books.
By the time Shannon finished with her, a semi-naked, sex-slaked Sylvia Hornstom could barely lift herself off the carpet long enough to sign a contract for her next ten books. And by the time Shannon had finished editing and reworking her first manuscript, there were fights among the copy editors over who got to read it. Shannon gave members of the Happy Club first dibs.
This was all impossible. Simply impossible. Shannon squeezed her eyes shut, trying to block out memories that she knew were ridiculous, no matter how real they seemed. How could her own life read like something out of one of Hornstom’s preposterous books? How could she be so certain that these things never happened yet remember them more clearly than what she had for breakfast that morning? And all around her she could hear the noises of increasingly uninhibited public sex.
She opened her eyes. Right in front of her, the girl with the great tits was being joyously fucked by the man standing behind her. Her tights were down around her hips, her breasts were completely exposed to his fondling hands, and her backside was pressed against the man’s naked crotch, inviting his stiffness deeper into her pussy. She was still somehow holding on with one hand, mewling and crying as her new lover pistoned wetly into her.
A few seats behind them the gorgeous Asian woman (had she been so stunning before?) was panting for breath while she and the man beside her engaged in a spontaneous mutual masturbation session. She had her legs spread wide to give him access under her minidress (had it been so short before?) His fly was open. Her delicate left hand was pumping up and down on his pecker. While Shannon watched she leaned over to give him a slow, wet kiss.
The babe with the vibrator inside her was pressing one hand against her crotch and fondling her nipples, lost in her own world. Her hair was in disarray. Behind her, the schoolgirls were getting completely carried away. The brown-haired girl’s white underthings were down around her shoes. She had one arm around her curly-haired classmate, holding her close. The other girl’s free hand disappeared between her legs. Their hips bucked and gyrated.
Shannon stared at them all, shocked beyond words. She felt like her grip on reality was slipping away from her, like a boat that had slipped its moorings and floated off down a strange jungle river. The man beside her seemed unconcerned that an ordinary tube ride had descended into debauchery, or that somehow every woman on the train was ripe and attractive. He looked around approvingly, but made no comment. Instead he regarded Shannon. “Taking your work home again, are you?” he observed.
Shannon looked down in her lap. Instead of the silly romance novel she had been reading (hadn’t she?), there was her tablet from work. On the screen lay a rough draft of Hornstom’s next opus, The Impatient Bridesmaids (due out in two weeks). The book was remarkable for somehow including almost every possible seduction of members of the groom’s family, young and old, married or single, male or female, before, after and during the wedding. Not to mention one under the table during the reception. At least it would include all those scenes, by the time Shannon finished editing it.
But it wasn’t the manuscript in her lap that made Shannon gasp in renewed astonishment. Rather, it was the fact that to see it she had to look past a pair of enormous breasts that most emphatically were not hers. Round and high and ridiculously abundant, they were over-filling a lilac-colour pullover, contained by nothing more than an underwired demi-bra rimmed with red flowers.
Shannon did a full inspection of herself. Every other part of her was as amazing as her tits. Her formerly lacklustre hair was now a cascade of dark-blonde silk, flowing in tight curls down her shoulders almost to her elbows. Her figure was a winding parade of curves, her face sultry and beguiling. Her entire form had been somehow re-imagined by a cosmic photo-manip program in the hands of a masturbating teenager. Below the lilac pullover she was wearing tight red shortie-shorts, plum-coloured pantyhose and over-the-knee, black leather boots.
“How how did I get so . . . hot!” Shannon exclaimed, staring down at herself. She ran a hand down one tight, black boot in wonder. How could she have worn an outfit like this to the office? Shannon liked to be comfortable. Still, the heels were only three inches. Not like her white stretch boots, with the four-and-a-half inch heels, or the magenta ones, with the buckles and two-inch platforms, or . . . .
Something really, really wasn’t right here.
Shannon turned on the man sitting beside her. “It’s you!” she exclaimed.
“Me? Me what?”
“You you’re doing all this,” she gestured broadly to the coupling commuters all around her “and, and you . . . . did this to me. What’s going on? What is this, hypnosis or something?”
“Hypnosis? Don’t be daft. Your fellow travelers aren’t mesmerized, they’re liberated. They’re free to express their true, uninhibited humanity. And have a little fun.”
“But none of this is possible! People don’t fuck on the underground! And I do not look like this! This can’t be real.”
“Ah, that,” Damien replied. He stroked his beard for a moment. “Actually, this is real. You truly are that sexy; you really did found PurpleProse books; you really do have your boss and your whole office wrapped around your little finger; you really did screw a company vice-president on the boardroom table this afternoon. Now isn’t this a more pleasant reality than your boring old life?”
He smiled at her. There was something in that smile, something unsettling and wild in the depths of his eyes that disturbed Shannon greatly. She tried to ignore the fact that everything he said seemed obviously true, or that she was terrifically turned on by all the madness around her.
“How are you doing this?” Her voice was small.
“It was an accident. Remember I said I was an anthropologist? Graduate student, actually. I performed an ancient religious rite. I was trying to get a feel for how the people of a long-forgotten culture did things. The timing was exactly right: there was a rare planetary alignment that night. The ritual did something; it rewired the universe so to speak, rerouting some timeless, nameless, irresistible force directly through my mind. The force allows me to reconstruct reality. Effortlessly.”
“That’s preposterous.” It had to be. Otherwise she would go mad. Why did her titties feel so nice?
The train slid into Woodford station. None of the embracing couples stopped what they were doing. Although the platform was bustling, only one person entered Shannon’s car: a tall, rather lanky young woman in a t-shirt, skinny jeans and ballet flats.
“Let me show you,” Damien said, still smiling. “This is Carlene. She works as a waitress. Hates it. Lousy pay and long hours. Take a look at her.”
Shannon looked. “What about her?”
Shannon jumped. The woman who had been plain a moment earlier was now svelte and shapely. Her hair was long and lovely, her face adorable. She was wearing a loose-flowing summer dress of white lace, as thin as vapour and short as a negligee. White lace stockings decorated her dancer’s legs, ending with big ruffles at mid-thigh. Yet on her feet were the latest fashion in suede sandal-boots with chunky wedge heels.
Shannon could only stare. “How did you I mean, what did she’s fabulous!” She watched the newcomer step gracefully around the first fucking couple. She flicked a bead of sweat off the girl’s left breast. She got as far as the man who was stroking himself while reading a PurpleProse novel. She stopped to watch for a few seconds. She licked her lips. She leaned over to whisper something to the man. His reply turned into a series of murmuring kisses. While he was engaged, she gently replaced his hand on his cock with hers. She was wearing white lace gloves.
Shannon felt her sanity slip another notch. Now she was confronted with a close-up view of Carlene’s endless legs as she bent over in her too-short dress. She found herself imagining kissing her way up those legs, slowly and lovingly, right up to the white lace panties stretched over her bubble butt. She made a mewing sound. She stroked her crotch through her tight shorts.
“You see?” Damien said casually. “I fixed Carlene’s self-confidence issues and improved her dress sense. Those qualities contribute to the success of the three restaurants she owns. That and the untraceable narcotics she likes to sneak into the appetizers.”
Shannon shrank away from him on the bench. Whoever Damien was, it was clear that he was immensely powerful and not quite sane. A frightening combination. “Please,” she said, “stop all this. Change me back. I don’t want to have giant melons I mean jumbo jugs I mean titties, titties, titties! Oh god I’m so horny!” Confused and overwhelmed, she succumbed to the strange urges pulsing through her. She began to tease and fondle her oversized breasts with both hands.
The result was instant ecstacy. Every touch sent a thrill of pleasure that rippled right down to her pussy. In seconds the E-cup editor was doubled over with delight, crying out. Her squeals combined with the rising noise from the happy couples around her, including several she hadn’t noticed before. “Ohmygod ohmygod ohmygod, feels so nice so nice so niiiiice! Why am I so oh fuck yes!”
Damien watched her with interest. “I ramped up your sensitivity a notch,” he explained. “Actually several notches. Whatever. Go ahead and get yourself off. I don’t think anyone here will mind.” As if in proof, the amorous schoolgirls, still vigorously kissing and fingering, lost their balance and tumbled into the lap of a middle-aged businessman sitting nearby. In seconds the lesbian encounter transformed into an exuberant three-way.
Shannon groaned in heat. She was fondling herself shamelessly now. Her ministrations were lubricated by a flood of new memories, all of them confirming the ribald new reality Damien had described.
She remembered the weekly meetings at which she convinced an increasingly confused and besotted Sylvia Hornstom, and more recently two other young writers she had stolen from the competition, to incorporate Shannon’s wild and salacious ideas into their plots. She remembered her successful project to re-model Renee in the marketing department from a forgettable frump into a head-turning hottie. She remembered convincing her, and other members of the Happy Club, to wear five-inch heels to the office, as their secret insignia. It was such fun to watch the girls tottering about the office in their wobbly spikes, only to lose their balance and tumble into somebody whenever Shannon buzzed their pussies. And she remembered how every objection from the director about her remaking the office into her personal playground was overcome by jerking him off between her giant tits.
It was all too much. Sprawled on the train seat with one hand adoring her huge hooters and the other pressing the seam of her shorts into her cleft, Shannon climaxed. She shouted “Oh fuck YES!” loud enough to be heard in Piccadilly Circus. She bent over at the waist, twisting and twitching in delight. All around her, other passengers were coming too. The air was filled with gasps and cries.
Damien watched it all, smiling his evil smile. When at last she began to recover, Shannon looked up at him through long curls of hair falling over her face. “You’re . . . a monster,” she accused, but without force. She was still panting for breath.
He chuckled. “You’re welcome,” he replied. “Well, this is my stop. It was a pleasure meeting you, Shannon. Don’t you agree?”
Shannon yelped as another orgasm seized her from out of nowhere. She bucked in her seat. “Mmmmmm, mmmmonster,” she sighed.
The train arrived at Loughton station. Damien got to his feet. “I left you a little something, by the way,” he said. “A parting gift for being such good company. Look in your purse.”
As the doors opened he stepped around the girl in leggings, who was lazily making herself presentable again, and stepped into the station. Random couples were making out on the platform. One of them included a woman in hot pants who may have been a security guard. Damien was greeted by two astonishingly well proportioned women in shiny bodystockings and high-heels who took his arms on both sides. Shannon wasn’t even surprised any more.
As the train accelerated out of the station, Shannon sat back and relaxed. All around her, satisfied couples were cooing and kissing. Carlene the restaurateur was now sitting in the lap of the man she had jerked off; they were reading his PurpleProse book together. Behind him, the two sexy schoolgirls were giggling in the arms of the businessman whose lap they had fallen into. He had a pair of lace knickers in each hand. The length of the girls’s skirts guaranteed passers-by would notice their generosity.
Shannon pulled her purse into her lap. Inside she found a sheaf of platinum charge cards, keys to a brand new Porsche convertible, and enough cosmetics to see her through any eventuality. A side pocket contained no less than six colour-coded fobs, each one a remote control for one member of the Happy Club. She looked at the blue one. Trina had said she was going to the opera that evening. The remote controls had a surprisingly long range. Shannon gave her a good jolt.
There was a large manilla envelope folded in the middle of the purse. Shannon pulled it out. Was this the gift? Inside was an itinerary for a first class flight and reservations at a posh sea-side resort. The trip was a two-week get-away, paid for by Blackburn and Thrumb, to celebrate the success of PurpleProse books. Somehow Shannon had convinced the director to let her take her entire entourage, to make the trip a sort of working retreat.
A sudden smile lit up Shannon’s newly beautiful face. The train arrived at her station. Still smiling, she smoothed down her pullover, vainly admiring her jutting breasts, gathered up her things, and stepped gracefully off the train in her high black boots. The train pulled away, leaving her in the thin crowd on the platform, wondering idly about which bikinis to pack for the trip.