The Erotic Mind-Control Story Archive


Codes: mc, ff

Disclaimers (if you scroll past, you’ve still read ‘em—don’t blame me):

  • This author is not the same trilby who dwells on AOL; thus, Trilby on AOL should not be held responsible for anything that follows.
  • This work is copyright the author, © 2001. Kindly do not repost or otherwise use without permission and credit.
  • This is adult fiction with nonconsensual sex, mind control, and other immoral and illegal acts both explicit and implied. In real life this would all be very bad. All characters, events, and places are fictional and any resemblance to actual persons, events or places is coincidental, etc. All characters are of legal age in all jurisdictions, not that it’s done them much good so far. References like “boy”, “girl”, or “child” are rhetorical, not technical.
  • If you’re underage, stop reading and get out. (The average fashion magazine these days is probably enough.) If it’s just flat illegal there, ditto (and I’m very sorry.) If you find this sort of thing offensive in general, ditto (and why are you here?)
  • It’s more about mind control than sex. I’m a fetishist: point isn’t using MC to get sex, it’s sex being something interesting to do with MC. So if you only want short zap/long fuckfest . . . see ya. Also, I consider this literature, i.e. with redeeming artistic content, i.e. not “obscene” in the legal definition. (Argue that if you will, but it’s my story, so to speak, and I’m sticking to it.)
  • I disparage no lifestyle. If characters are forced into one, it’s the force that degrades, not the lifestyle.
* * *

This is a sequel to “Trinkets” and “Recovery.” Inspirations are at the end.

* * *


Kerry was topless and oiled in the stillness of Isle Dormignonne’s morning, sinking deeper into complete obedience. Just the thought of it alone was hypnotic and irresistible. She loved the feeling, and hated herself for loving it.

She’d been here before in this lovely humid dream of submission, and she was wondering if she’d ever really left. Maybe the normal life she could still seem to recall, the life that involved decisions and clothing and free will, was just the last twitch of the woman she’d been before the Tribe brainwashing, and soon she’d forget.

A warm breeze reminded her of her near-nudity. She closed her eyes and felt the scrap of cloth around her crotch, the collar on her neck, the seashells and wound-stem jewelry on her wrist and ankle and upper arm that marked her as Tribe. She opened them, seeing her skin under the sheen of the sunscreen that was keeping her tranquilized and suggestible.

I must apply more so that I can be deepened, she told herself dutifully, though she was too languid to do anything about it right away. She sensed that those who were brainwashing her were just as pleased to see her standing dazed. A vague thrill filled her, to have pleased them. Addicting her.

Soon enough, she’d be with other brainwashed Tribeswomen, and when she put the drugged lotion on her own skin or someone else’s it probably wouldn’t be her own idea at all. A senior Tribesister would command it and she would obey, or it would simply be part of the groupthink to which they were all in thrall, responding to the sight and scent of each other’s smooth bodies with the impulse to soothe and anoint.

It was always more arousing to obey.

The mind control she knew she was under was letting her know something awful was about to happen, but her lack of dread was the rest of its lesson: it was training her to accept what her Owners defined as good and bad for her. She was responding well. She was almost ready to let it convert her completely.

The awful thing was about to happen to someone she loved. That was all that was keeping her from slipping all the way into a soft, comfortable trance and completing the enslavement. But her resistance was feeling less like a fight and more like trying to hold off an orgasm.

Kerry thought about a slim woman with flashing eyes and short dark hair. Sue! I’m fighting it! I’m trying! They want me to . . . whatever it is, I won’t, not to you . . .

Then she saw Sue’s eyes lose their flash and widen, and she heard her lover ‘s voice intone, “I am Tribe. I am called Duneleaf. I obey only Tribe.”

Kerry tried to scream, and what she let out was nightmarishly quiet and strangled. She knew in a moment she’d think this was a good thing. It would make her come.

That made her scream again, and she was suddenly lonely. It hurt more than anything else that she’d never be able to tell Sue or to hear her say . . .

“I love you.”

The voice was soft and alien-familiar, and it was as steadying as arms encircling her. Then she knew there really were arms around her, and they seemed to feel and absorb the jolt as she realized she’d been dreaming.

Slumping on the sheets, she saw Andrea’s eyes looking down at her, even bluer through her tears. Andrea was shorter than she, but now Kerry felt small and young as Andrea gathered her close.

Still she didn’t feel safe. She’d awakened like this, wrapped in Andrea, the day they’d both nearly lost their wills and shipped themselves out of the country. They’d been lovers then at the hypnotic urging of the people who’d used their vacation to Isle Dormignonne to enslave them, and they were still utterly controlled. That day, they’d been within a few steps, a single trigger phrase, of forgetting who they were, and obeying implanted commands to run far from anyone who could help them, to others who’d use and own them forever. Kerry was lost in memories, praying that was all they were.

“You’re safe,” Andrea murmured, a balm over Kerry’s sore soul. “We’re both safe, and we’re together, and I love you.”

It had the practiced cadence of a prayer, and Kerry recognized the message Andrea recited to her, each time she woke like this, to orient her and bring her out of the evil dreams. She was ashamed that it was so familiar to her, that Andrea had so often to pull her out of the seductive hell she kept falling into, despite all the deprogramming. Despite the joy of being with Andrea herself, when they realized the love and attraction they shared was real enough now, however it had been put into their hearts and minds.

Andrea seemed to sense that, and stroked Kerry’s hair to reassure her. Kerry nestled closer, feeling Andrea’s chest against her face.

“I woke you,” she whispered. “I’m sorry.”

She felt lips on her eyebrow. “It’s what I’m for, Kerry. I don’t want to sleep and dream if you’re hurting. I want to bring you out.”

“But I was—” Kerry stopped.

“You were dreaming about her,” Andrea said anyway. “About Sue.” Her voice carried only the hurt she felt for Kerry’s pain. She’d never seemed jealous toward the woman Kerry had loved before her, the one Kerry had helped to resist the drugs and hypnosis of the Tribe programming. The one who’d saved them all by getting help.

The one who’d died doing it, half a world away from Kerry, with only her message left when her words woke Kerry from her last trance, just in time.

Sue’s illness had kept her on medication that had shielded her from the mindbending drugs that had turned the rest of the women, including Kerry, into suggestible pawns. She’d helped draw Kerry out of the endless trance and they’d kept each other thinking long enough to escape.

Then Sue’s illness had shown its other edge, and started killing her.

“I can never speak to her,” Kerry said. “And she never speaks, unless it’s after they’ve—enslaved her. I wish . . .”

Andrea leaned down again and kissed Kerry’s cheek. “The therapists said it was guilt. For trying to go on and reach help when she was dying, even though she told you to, and you were trying to save all of us. For forgetting about her for a while, even though it was because they brainwashed you when you were recaptured.”

Her reproach wasn’t for Kerry. “They didn’t think that makes sense. I do. You don’t stop feeling for someone just because of what makes sense.” Her arms tightened around Kerry. “I hate how much it hurts you, Kerry. I hate it.

“But I love you more for it.

“Does that make—ohh.” In answer, Kerry had taken her small, sensitive breast and gently sucked on it.

She breathed and then said, “They’ll be here tomorrow.”

Kerry nodded against her, enjoying Andrea’s quiet pleasured movement as her hair caressed Andrea’s nipple. “I’m still not sure why you think this visit will be helpful. But I am curious to meet them.”

Andrea kept stroking her hair, and Kerry wondered without any urgency whether she’d fall asleep as Andrea spoke.

“I thought,” Andrea said, “they could show us that we’re not an anomaly. That people did get free of what Queen Lines Resorts did to them.

“And they’re the only kind of people who really understand how it feels.”

Kerry hadn’t sought contact with others who’d been rescued from Dormignonne or from the slave hives that Queen Lines, or the nameless group behind it, had kept. She wasn’t sure she wanted to. Too many of them had lost close friends. They’d traveled to the resort in groups, part of QLR’s serial recruitment process, as women who’d been there earlier obeyed programmed instructions to bring friends for enslavement.

Some still hated the friends who’d done that to them, even knowing they could no longer help themselves by then—in some ways they couldn’t be themselves, anymore. Others, the deeply-brainwashed drones from the call centers and Dormignonne itself, were too far gone, their wills destroyed, unable to function without command. Or to desire any other life but obedience.

The day that QLR counterattacked and used the call center drones to command its other slaves to scatter beyond rescue, Kerry had been on the phone with another slave, Ruth, both of them too deep in their slave-programming to be aware of it, when someone in Ruth’s office triggered her. Ruth had been one of the ones who’d slipped off to an airport under the posthypnotic yoke, and “escaped,” before the authorities closing in on QLR had realized what the slavers were doing. She’d boarded a flight for South America. Every women who’d spent unremembered time on Dormignonne knew someone who’d disappeared.

“Maybe,” Kerry whispered now, “they don’t want to understand it. Or feel it.”

Andrea’s touch on her shoulderblade was warm and firm. “These two are a little more, Kerry. They saved each other.”

It reached deep into Kerry. She and Andrea had done that too, that same day, as QLR had awakened its slaves with telephonic commands. If either one had been alone in the apartment, she’d have answered and listened, slept and obeyed. Disappeared as carefully as she’d been programmed to do.

Kerry found herself trying to stay awake under Andrea’s relentlessly soothing fingers, because she didn’t want her lover to stay awake alone, considering things like that. But again Andrea sensed her feeling and slid down beside her, pulling her head to her shoulder. “Here. Let’s sleep like this, with our heads together. Maybe then if we dream, some of mine can drift into yours.”

Letting herself be held and enjoying the smell of Andrea’s hair, its coppery sheen invisible in the dark, Kerry could still murmur, “But then some of mine would leak over to you, ‘Drea.”

Andrea kissed her delicately below her ear and it sent a gentle fire through Kerry’s pussy. She was too drowsy now to rouse herself to try seducing Andrea, and too deep into the submission of letting Andrea be in control.

Then she dissolved as Andrea whispered to her. “I hope so, Kerry. If I can take some of your nightmares, I will. Nothing scares me more than hearing you cry in your sleep, and thinking that inside here”—she nuzzled Kerry’s head—“you’re screaming.”

Kerry held her and let her take her down. It was so nice to fall asleep, safe with her love, and soon sleep held her as softly as Andrea did.


The French naval helicopter came down straight, without the panoramic swing they always made in the movies.

That was entirely fine with Dee, who looked out the windows as little as possible, and concentrated on remembering which hand was clasped in Tara’s and which one was on the armrest. If the armrest had been alive she’d have choked it to death in her grip, and she didn’t want to maul the woman she loved by squeezing the wrong extremity.

Beside her, Tara Newman sat calmly, holding her left hand and hugging her shoulders. Dee’s left hand had lost its cunning a year ago, when she’d gripped her shattered eyeglasses and driven their shards through it. She remembered the pain and blessed it. It was all she’d had against the hypnosis she was being conditioned to want, and it had kept her from sleeping when Tara most needed her awake.

Tara remembered too, and took special care of that hand. She held it tenderly now.

The young ensign minding them kept his eyes politely averted. Though she spoke no French, Dee knew Tara had quietly explained her girlfriend’s fear before they boarded and he was trying not to add the pressure of an audience.

In the short but intense time they’d known each other, Dee’s fear of heights and flight hadn’t come up, but this visit even she didn’t want to miss, and she’d had to tell Tara the real reason for her nerves.

“I wish you’d let Dr Wardlow put you under,” Tara whispered quietly, leaning close to her ear, as though her soft breath conducted the sound.

“We’ve almost landed anyway,” Dee said, trying to sound tender through clenched teeth. “Unless I just really want that to be Cap des Voleurs down there, and we’re still—?”

“If you’d look, you’d see we’re there,” Tara laughed, but she held Dee closer, to let her hide her face in Tara’s neck and hair instead of looking. Dee sighed.

Tara knew the reason Dee resisted hypnosis now, and preferred the mild agony of airsickness and sky panic to letting even Dr Wardlow entrance her. Even now Dee felt cold thinking of it.

The last time she’d let someone hypnotize her, it had been Natalie Kupiec, the doctor she worked for, the one in charge of deprogramming Tara. And once she’d let Dr Kupiec into her mind, the psychiatrist had almost twisted her feelings for Tara into a compulsion to seduce Tara back into the slavery she’d been crawling out of. It had worked too well—instead of just submitting to her own lust, she’d gone deeper, and fallen in love with Tara, and that had nearly been enough to save them both.


Dee closed her eyes and nestled closer to Tara, letting the chopper’s engine noise isolate her with her lover’s smell and feel.

Tara held her, breathing a little faster, excited to be near Dee and exhilarated by the flight and the view and the day, relishing it all. Dee smiled against her hair, happy to know Tara, at least, was enjoying it. She started to feel so lost in Tara that she didn’t even expect to feel them touch down. Naturally, then, she tensed, reminded of how far they were from the ground.

She felt Tara’s hand leave her shoulder and turn her head upward. She let herself be moved, not opening her eyes until Tara’s face filled her view and there was no way to see the tilted horizon and the treetops below.

Tara kissed her. She murmured, “If your fear’s true and we do land hard, Dee, this is how I want to be.” They kissed again.

When they parted the chopper was down. Tara blew the pilot a kiss in thanks for the softness of the landing when he leaned back to check on them, and he inclined his head, his art appreciated.

Dee just beamed at him, and he smiled before turning back to his panels. Stereotype or not, she thought, the French get it. Love.

Loving Tara had nearly freed them.

But Dr Kupiec had made the difference. It hadn’t been her fault in the first place that she’d controlled them—the mind controller had taken her before she’d realized what she was dealing with. She’d turned Dee into her puppet with drug-induced hypnosis that was ostensibly to help her resist control, but she’d been dancing on strings herself. In the end, fighting for her own soul, Natalie Kupiec had recaptured it long enough to put herself between Tara and Dee and the slaver’s thirst for them all.

The last time Dee had seen Dr Kupiec, she’d forced herself to leave them, a few heartbeats ahead of the mind control that had corroded her own will, before it made the need to pounce on their weakness too arousing a thing for her to resist.

Dr Kupiec had protected them. She’d gone out to the woman who’d enslaved her, empty-handed, disobeying her final command with the last resolve she had. No one had ever seen her again, or the one who’d taken her.

In her dreams, Dee returned to that moment, jealously lying on guard over Tara where she lay after Dee had tranquilized her, with no way to keep Dr Kupiec there too. She’d chosen to defend her lover and never regretted that, but watching as the doctor had sacrificed herself, without even knowing whether it worked, had seared itself into Dee’s soul.

Even deep in grief, Dee wanted nothing to do with hypnosis anymore.

Outside of the therapy she’d had to undergo to ensure she was free of residual compulsions, Dee refused to let anyone hypnotize her, not even with Tara keeping watch over her—perhaps especially not with Tara there, because Tara’s susceptibility put her even more at risk.

As the helicopter’s blades swung more and more slowly over them, the shadows pulsing in the cabin, Dee took a deep breath and resolutely ignored how soothing the motion was, and as she eased back from Tara, she saw nothing like trance dimming her lover’s gaze either. Tara looked out at the grass and trees, and over the cliff’s edge at the blue of the Bay of Biscay beyond, aware and awake.

“It’s wonderful,” she murmured. As are you, Dee wanted to say.

“It’s not moving, at least,” she said instead, but as the ensign opened the cabin door and let the steps down, she breathed the sea air and found herself sharing Tara’s delight with the place.

Then they were out, and the ensign was carrying their baggage as they made their way to the lighthouse at the end of the promontory. “So little to bring!” he’d commented in English as he stowed it before they’d lifted from Ariadne’s deck, smiling deeply at what Dee guessed was the thought of how little the two women might wear, or not, while they stayed here.

Dream on, she’d thought back at him as she smiled, and he’d winked.

Tara gazed archly back at him and put her arm around Dee’s waist as they walked. Dee put her hand over Tara’s. Moments like this made her head spin, not just for the touch but as she remembered how helpless Tara had been when they’d met. Tara had been a call-center drone, the most deeply-brainwashed layer of QLR’s slavewomen, kept constantly in trance, programmed to go down a list, triggering women to leave their homes and jobs and lives. Even in therapy she was weakened and addicted to being hypnotized, and even as she realized how it was eroding her will she couldn’ t resist.

As they walked, Dee turned and kissed Tara without even thinking about the ensign for a moment, and she knew it would be even more of a turn-on for him for being spontaneous. She didn’t care. She loved this strong, thoughtful woman, and she was proud of Tara’s strength and how far she’d come.

She was proud Tara had chosen her, too. In part she was excited to be here because she wanted to be in Tara’s arm before the gaze of women who’d understand best of all.

She was a little intimidated, too. She and Tara had fought a quiet, private battle and come away free, but Kerry, waiting here for them, had helped save so many more. She had no reason to think Kerry or her own lover would be arrogant, but she felt more than a little in awe. Nevertheless, it was good to meet survivors—especially another couple who’d come out of this in each other’s arms, not just safe but sharing something they hadn’t had before.

Dee pulled closer to Tara as she looked up at the lighthouse. It would also be good to talk to the woman who’d found the radios, who’d lost someone but knew what had become of her. To look her in the eye and thank her.

She saw them now—a woman in a tank top and shorts with dark hair gathered on her head, hand in hand with a shorter redhead in a sundress. The redhead looked at her companion and then stepped out from the house to meet them as they came up the lawn.

They stopped as she stood in front of them. She nodded to the ensign and said something in rapid French, and after setting the two small bags down on the grass, he gave them all a salute before heading back to the helicopter.

“Welcome to the safehouse,” she said. “I’m Andrea.”

Dee felt Tara tremble next to her and realized the moment was hitting Tara hard. Andrea’s calm seemed thin, too, as she looked at them. Dee slipped loose from Tara, squeezing her hip reassuringly, and held her hand out.

“Thanks for inviting us, Andrea. I’m Dee. This is Tara.”

Andrea looked at them both, and took each of their hands. “I’m—we’re very glad you could come.” She blinked. “This will sound odd, but is she still there?”

Dee looked past her at the house, at the dark-haired woman. She wondered how much of Kerry’s tension she could really see, and how much she was imagining. With a quick look at Tara, she stepped forward and around, so that Andrea could turn to follow her.

Back to face the house, and see Kerry again.

Andrea’s eyes shone, as they flicked between Dee’s own and Kerry afar. “Thank you,” she said quietly. “I very seldom let her out of my sight. This is the longest in days. I think I’m still insane.”

“Just crazy about her,” Dee said. “And I know the feeling.”

Tara had the bags, and she nodded to them, smiling at Dee. Andrea caught it and grinned sheepishly, suddenly looking less like a solemn child and more like a shy young woman.

“Sorry. Dee’s humoring me.”

“No,” Tara said, as they fell into step. “Dee’s a nurse, and she’s healing you. I just love watching her do it.”

Andrea, between them, looked at each of them in turn, and seemed as though she’d decided something and was glad of it.


Kerry saw them on the grass as Andrea met them. There was a moment of reasonless panic as she imagined them snapping to attention, QLR drones activated by the sight of Andrea, and dragging her screaming back to the chopper as the phone rang to say the wrong people had flown in.

She stood frozen. Maybe they were already activated, and would just speak a phrase that would reach into some hidden, still-obedient corner of Andrea’ s mind to wipe a year’s worth of love and freedom from her, and she’d walk compliantly away with them.

Or walk back here, to help them entrance Kerry, before they all strolled back into slavery.

I can reach the cliff’s edge before that, Sue. If I have to—

Kerry blinked the horrors away. She knew Andrea was fighting similar fears as she went to meet two women who were almost certainly who they should be, and Andrea was closer to them, with no cliff to run to. She knew Andrea was also fighting the need to turn around and see her, but was keeping focus on their guests. She stared at Andrea’s slim back, trying not to blink, trying to will some of her own strength to the woman who was so often strong for her.

She thought of another gloriously sunny day, though the air on Isle Dormignonne had been thick and sluggish instead, just as her thoughts had been there. Still brainwashed and dimly happy about it, she and Andrea had been out walking, deep in their conditioning as devoted women of the Tribe.

A strange voice had begun calling softly to Andrea from the woods. It cast a spell over her that would have drawn her sleepwalking to vanish into the leaves, if Kerry hadn’t held her and covered her ears until the call passed.

Later that day, while Kerry let herself be sucked into an orgy of Tribal mindlessness, Andrea had wandered off alone, and this time nothing had helped her resist the call when it lured her away. Kerry hadn’t seen her again until their controllers had started to wake them on the trip back.

Even now Kerry could feel that hideous guilt. She could never make up for abandoning ‘Drea like that. She wondered sometimes if, at the moment she’d been orgasming with her Tribesisters, ‘Drea had had a last moment of half-clarity, looking fruitlessly for Kerry’s help as she felt herself pulled to submit, or if she’d just slipped into the trance and let herself be captured.

Andrea insisted she didn’t remember, and held Kerry when that didn’t make Kerry feel any better.

Lately Andrea had been preoccupied and often tired, around the same time she’d started feeling Kerry out about inviting the other QLR survivors—“another mated pair,” she’d joked, but her eyes hadn’t smiled. Kerry’d worried that she was sick, or working too hard on her part of the data project they were pursuing to pay their keep to their guardians.

There’d been a day’s heart-stopping dread as she’d wondered if someone had managed to hypnotize Andrea online, catching her at her most receptive and absorbed. But when she’d checked, the filters were working, and no one had gotten through. Andrea had shown her the code for the little relaxation program she’d made for herself and used only offline, and then deleted it, promising never to use it again and apologizing sincerely (and for a moist evening) for making Kerry worry.

Kerry still worried, knowing now that as they’d worked in the same room, in sight of each other, Andrea had gone under, even if only slightly, and she hadn’t known. Even if there were no malicious entity trancing Andrea, Kerry still agonized at the thought of Andrea being that vulnerable without her being there to shield her—it brought back the forest into which Andrea had been enticed when Kerry had turned away.

She’d worry, too, that perhaps Andrea was drawing away from her, not needing or wanting Kerry’s protection, but Andrea seemed even closer to her after that, in and out of bed.

Kerry stood still, adoring Andrea now, watching her meet the newcomers. She wondered if they were nervous. Or having similar horrors about what this place really might be, about what she and Andrea might really be doing—or obeying—here in the lighthouse.

She’d long since gotten tired of hating QLR for making everything a threat. There’d been days when she’d looked at the soap, the morning coffee, a new pastry, the flickering from the TV in another room, the sound of a Stamitz minuet that pierced her—wondering if any of them were a trigger.

She just enjoyed what she could, and cherished every second with Andrea. When Andrea for no apparent reason put down whatever she was doing and held her or just pressed against her, asking to be held, it made perfect sense and worth making the extra time.

Only fair, too, for all the times she did the same thing.

Being even this far away from Andrea was hard. She focused on the copper gleam of her lover’s hair, saw the pallor of her shoulders in the sundress. She suddenly wondered about the etiquette of sharing the lighthouse. It was spacious enough, but now they’d have to be careful about where they could suddenly shed clothes and fall on each other, and spend an hour or five engrossed in lovemaking.

Tara and Dee were from the real world out there, the one outside this fortress maintained by Malvoisin de Valliere and his allies. Kerry felt more guilt as she thought of the other victims who had lives they had to resume living.

You’re a symbol, they’d told her. You’re the one we can’t risk being recaptured, or assassinated, or triggered in place. The woman whose husband is wondering if she’s really a lesbian now but never saying anything out loud, the one who may be getting stares, and offers, from total strangers, the one who’s still lucky to sleep two hours in twenty-four . . . they need to know that you, at least, are safe. Because if you’re not, what do they have?

There was Sue, too. For many out there, Kerry was not just a heroine but a heroine’s widow, and she was accepting what her lover was due. In a way that made it easier—it wasn’t Sue’s kiss, or her voice, but it was a way to do something for her.

I’ll make you proud, she thought, not for the first time. A breeze from the bay stroked her arm and she bit back tears.

Andrea had turned around, and Kerry realized she herself felt more real now that Andrea was looking at her again. She breathed the sea air, calming herself, ready to be a hostess. And a symbol.

She nerved herself to step off the patio onto the grass and go out to them. As she did, she saw three pairs of eyes with the same look she was used to seeing in the mirror, and sometimes in Andrea’s eyes when her lover was tired or surprised. She stopped doubting, and opened her arms.

Tara stepped into them first. She looked thinner and taller than her pictures, and Kerry realized the short-cropped hair had been dyed blonde. She let the bags slip to the ground and held Kerry cautiously, off-guard at her openness but quick to respond. She didn’t kiss and Kerry was glad, not wanting everything to dissolve too soon.

As Tara’s arms loosened, Dee’s flowed around her, and Kerry’s head swam in the scent and warmth of two new women. Over Dee’s shoulder she saw Tara and ‘Drea watching them, holding hands.

Then they were standing together, all touching somehow, until Dee reached for ‘Drea’s hand and put it into Kerry’s. Kerry nodded to her and returned Andrea’s strong clasp. Then she said, “Please come up. We’ve got drinks, and some food if you want.”

“Our luggage made it,” Tara said, having somehow reacquired the two small satchels without really pulling away from anyone, “but I think Dee’s stomach is still over the ocean. Dee?”

“Oh, I’m down now.” Dee’s voice quivered with relief—at being landed, at fearing something as clean as a helicopter crash. “Oh yes. Food.”

They laughed and went inside. Andrea led them to the far end, to a room overlooking the bay. “We sleep upstairs,” she said. “This room was designed for guests.” She looked at them. “It’s as safe as anything here, with all the security around. I’m never sure if having a room up this tower is being hard to reach or being a treed cat. But if you’d feel better off of ground level, we can fix up another one.”

“Or you can have ours,” Kerry said.

Tara and Dee didn’t even look at each other before shaking their heads in unison. “The view’s lovely and I hate stairs,” Tara said.

“Let us know,” Kerry said, and then she let Andrea show them where everything was.

Presently Andrea was up against her again, and she was stroking the redhead ‘s back without even noticing that she’d started. “We’ll meet you on the back patio,” she told them, and they walked out to let the newcomers get settled.

Kerry walked past the table laid with lunch and the four lounge chairs and stopped. She felt the warmth of the sun-baked stone on the soles of her feet and reflecting against her legs, and gazed off at the ocean. She was still confused about how this visit made her feel, but it was mostly good.

Lips kissed her upper arm and then Andrea’s fingers were teasing her chest and waist, neatly stripping her down to the bikini. She turned, and Andrea, smiling up at her, had already shed her sundress.

They took up towels and walked to two of the loungers but waited before pushing them together.

They waited, too, before opening the sealed plastic bag that held sunblock and a signed receipt from the officer in charge of inspecting it. They wouldn’t be too long out here before Tara and Dee came out, and their guests were entitled to read it too.

Kerry didn’t know how Dee felt about it, but she knew Tara had been like her and Andrea, processed into a submissive zombie on a cruise ship before she’d even gotten to Dormignonne, and part of that had been the sedative sunscreen they’d applied to themselves and each other several times a day. First it had been a gentle urging by the Queen Lines staff. By the end, it had become a habit like breathing or masturbating.

To this day Kerry couldn’t abide the smell of coconut. It had taken her a while to make herself pick up a tube of this stuff, even after she’d seen the French medic demonstrate it on herself. She knew some women wouldn’t even try.

She wondered if Tara sunned herself anymore.

As Tara came out hand in hand with Dee, their swimsuits together comprising barely enough fabric for a modest handkerchief, she stopped wondering, and admired.


Dee lay back as Kerry and Tara chatted. She wasn’t sure what it was about, something about times they’d been in New York or Chicago—just something in common besides the slave training. She looked over at Andrea, who seemed happy to sit back and listen, too.

Andrea was a petite woman, but even so she’d chosen a bandeau top that made her bust seem even smaller. It looked artless and vulnerable, and Dee believed it, feeling a rush of liking for the other woman. She wondered if Andrea genuinely appreciated how pretty she was, though in the way she watched her lover talk to Tara, she seemed completely at ease. Andrea had no doubts, at least, about where Kerry’s heart lay, and cared not for the rest of the world.

Dee already felt akin to her in some ways. She recognized a lot of her own behavior in Andrea: in the odd society of QLR survivors, each of them was the consort of one of the better-known resisters. But it had been they, the consorts, who’d conspired to arrange this meeting. She’d read in Andrea’s e-mails and calls that Kerry was as skittish about it as she’d found Tara to be—everyone was feeling unworthy of everyone else.

Andrea caught her eye and swung her legs to stand by her chair. The others stopped at once and looked at her, but she just smiled. “Getting more iced tea,” she said.

“I’ll help,” Dee said as she rose, and their lovers settled back, starting to speak more softly.

The kitchen was more of the building at the lighthouse’s foot, and its windows looked out onto the patio from the north. Dee and Andrea stood for a moment, the indoor air cooling their bare skin, looking out at the two loungers and the brown and blonde hair moving slightly now and then above them as the others talked.

Andrea looked at her, her eyes full of tears. Dee almost said Yes, me too—more than my life but knew she’d never get it out. She glanced at the others again before turning back to Andrea. Her own heart strained with the joy, sharing the knowledge that there was love this intense, with someone else who knew exactly how it felt.

“I’m glad I came,” she did say, and Andrea managed to nod. If only for this, it was true. And she knew it wasn’t only for this.

She made herself do no more than grip Andrea’s hand as she stepped into the kitchen, searching for something to do. Andrea pointed and they started on the tea.

There was a pause, and Andrea bent to rinse her face in the sink, smiling as sheepishly as she had when she’d turned to look back at Kerry after greeting them.

Dee looked at her. “I really am glad,” she said, as much to see whether she could speak as to reassure Andrea. “But you have something in mind, and you wanted to talk to me about it.”

Andrea nodded, leaning back against the kitchen island. “I wasn’t sure what this would be,” she said slowly, as though she still weren’t. “If it were just to meet the two of you in person, it’d be worthwhile for me—and I think Kerry’s really happy to meet you, too. It’s one thing for her to know she and Sue brought the cavalry and stopped the slavers, but it’s another to meet actual people that are free because they did.”

Dee boosted herself up to sit on a counter, jerked as she realized she was putting her oiled behind on someone’s workspace, then settled as Andrea smirked and waved her back. It helped take the edge off what she said. “She knows you, for a start.”

Andrea didn’t see an edge. “And she knew me, even before the island and Tribe and slave nights and all. But others would be different. And you’re not just . . . I mean you’re not supplicants, just here to say ‘thank you.’ You made your own legend with the way you and Tara resisted, when they’d gotten all the way into the deprogramming system.”

Dee shook her head. “That wasn’t a legend, Andrea. It was a disaster. Dr Kupiec was brilliant and she understood what Tara and the others were going through—we needed her and she’s lost.” In her mind, again, she saw the woman turn away, terrified and aroused, and fled the vision. “Not to mention the other women that controller, Circe, took at her hotel—”

Andrea had stiffened, but she shook her head when she saw Dee’s alarm. “No, I’m not triggered. I knew Circe’d come up, I just didn’t know how I’d feel. The scary thing is that I have no bad memories of her. Kerry says I must have fallen under her spell the very first night of the cruise, and I just remember loving the shows she put on, and later . . . if she came up to me and I recognized her, I might not even run for a few seconds. And that might be all she’d need, with me.”

“I understand,” Dee said. “But about Tara—she herself doesn’t get why everyone admires her.”

Frowning, Andrea looked even more adorable, and Dee wondered absurdly what the effect would be if she wore glasses. “The file said she was actually fighting her own programming, trying to resist triggering the women on her call list. None of the other slaves—I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be, Andrea. Each of us has been a slave for a while. It’s just a description.”

“OK. But Tara’s the only one of the—drones—who did that, that they can find.”

Dee found her throat tightening again. “My lover is like yours. She kept trying. She’ll be the first to say she failed—the machines that were controlling her kept sensing her resistance and putting her under, and she managed to trigger each woman she was programmed for. But that—”

“—isn’t what matters,” Andrea finished, and they nodded to each other.

“One woman escaped because her timing was always bad.” Dee smiled. “Or good, depending. They actually did some initial deprogramming and she volunteered to let Tara call her again—she wanted to try and free her.” At Andrea’s wide-eyed look, she said, “No—it failed, just like with the others when Tara tried. The machines saw Tara was waking up and tranced her again.

“But Aileen Shelby tried to contact Tara later, after they got Tara and the others out of that slave hive—she wanted her to know someone out there knew she’d tried. Tara wouldn’t see her.”

Andrea looked carefully at her. “I know Tara tried to kill herself.”

Dee nodded. It made her dizzy to hear it spoken aloud. “Yes. That’s how I met her—she was in restraints. I didn’t know what to do—I’d never had a suicidal patient who was perfectly sane and had a reason to try that even I could understand.

“I think she still thinks about it. I don’t think she’d do that to me, leave me to find her dead or with some stranger trying to find a way to tell me, and I think she’s still keeping a promise to Dr Kupiec, but . . .

“But I never take it for granted that she’ll be alive when I get back.” Dee realized she was crying, even as she spoke evenly. She hadn’t been able to talk this way about it before, not even to Dr Wardlow. Andrea’s body twitched as though it wanted to come over to her, but Andrea respected her distance and stayed where she was.

“I love the way you and Kerry never leave each other’s sight—I realize how much you’re trusting Tara and me now, by letting us be the watchers.” Andrea was weeping now, and nodding.

“I make a point to give Tara some time by herself. If I ever think she’s down, that she might be sinking into the guilt, then no, I’m part of her body, not letting go—but day to day, her not killing herself is something I trust her with, and that’s something I can give her.”

Just seeing Andrea standing quietly, understanding, was drawing more up from Dee’s core. “I wish I could feel as bad as she does, sometimes. Then I’d know. Then—”

“—she wouldn’t be alone in hell.” Now Andrea came to her and held her tightly as she still sat on the counter, and she felt cool skin and warm tears on her belly.

When they touched, Dee expected to be overwhelmed, to be found in a tearful welter on the floor with Andrea when their lovers came to see what they’d gotten into, but both of them seemed to subside at the contact. After a moment Andrea looked up into her face and they nearly kissed, but then Andrea stepped back.

Her face looked as naked as Dee’s soul felt, and she reached out almost blindly, not looking away from Dee’s eyes. Dee took her hand and pulled her gently back to stand by the counter.

“I wasn’t . . .” Andrea was whispering. “I don’t remember fighting. I wasn’t like Kerry and Sue, staying conscious and escaping and finding radios. I was Circe’s little performance slut from the first night I saw her, and I went right through the program—hypno-lotion, mind control CDs, tribal dancing—and I don’t remember anything but obeying and liking it.”

Her whisper was a rasp, now, full of loathing for her enslavers and for herself. “I was so deep into Tribe I could only think of myself as Feather and do as pretty much anyone else in the world told me to. When the ‘tree spirits’ summoned me I wanted to go. The only reason I didn’t was because Kerry, already fucked-up with the drugs and the hypnosis, still cared enough and resisted enough to hold me back. She’s eaten her heart out because she didn’t save me the second time, and I feel like shit to watch her then. It’s not her fault.

“I didn’t fight. I don’t even remember what they did to me when I was in tree-spirit land. Just that it must have worked really well. I’m not in Kerry’s league.” She looked at Dee. “Or yours. I heard what you did to resist that doctor.”

She took Dee’s left hand, her touch as soft as her tone was fierce. She looked at it, kissing the scar there. “You bled. I think there’s nerve damage. But you saved your love. And you can still mourn the woman that almost sold you both off.”

Andrea was crying again. “Oh, god, Dee, I shouldn’t even be asking you this. I can’t. I can only ask for Kerry, and—”

Dee leaned down and this time she did kiss her. Andrea stood still, astonishment silencing her.

“None of us is unworthy,” Dee whispered, sliding off the counter to stand beside the shorter woman and hold her carefully by the shoulders. “Up to now I was feeling . . . spared, I suppose. All that happened to me was a little narcohypnosis. I didn’t go through the meatgrinder you three and all the others did. I had less to fight, and my reason for fighting was flesh and blood beside me—I was still warm from our bed.

“When I thought about what everyone else endured I felt worse, even though it’s part of why I made it—much more than that, why I helped my Tara make it.

“But every one of us did her best. You were there when Kerry needed you, at the end—she saved you but you saved her. And you’re with her now.

“So ask, Andrea. What do you need, for your Kerry?”


“They’re up to something,” Tara said, without looking away from the ocean.

Kerry was looking, too, playing her sometime game of trying to figure out which of the distant dots might be the naval patrol. Some might just be tricks of the light.

“You’re right,” she said. “And a very small part of me is worried that it isn’t their idea at all.” They looked at each other. “But if I start thinking she’s controlled, spying on her—”

“Then we’ve already lost.” Tara sat straighter, but only to stretch her back for a moment.

Kerry was looking out again. “If I lost Andrea that way again, I think I’d want to die.”

She heard herself say it and then turned to Tara, her mouth open around an apology she hadn’t thought of yet.

But all Tara said was “Exactly.” She looked distantly pleased, if anything.

“You didn’t put your foot in it, Kerry. Suicide means something else to us. I’m already seeing why coming here was a good idea. Those are easy words to say but it’s an awful thing to feel, and very few people can.”

Kerry relaxed. “Did you take as much convincing as I did?”

Tara looked up now, at the clouds in a sky bluer than Biscay itself. “More, I think.

“While I was being deprogrammed from my deprogramming, so to speak, they searched Dr Kupiec’s computer. The—Circe, the mind controller who’d impersonated my sister to get at me, had put her under control only a short time, but they couldn’t know that then. She might have been a sleeper. They had to know.”

Kerry knew some of this, but waited.

“They recovered a memo she’d written and deleted. The date was right, and the content—she had to have been under Circe’s control when she wrote it.

“She wanted them to have me see other victims one-on-one, to show me how some had survived, how I wasn’t solely responsible for . . . obviously by then I’d be her willing slave, and Circe would have made her make me mindfuck those poor women again, while she stood by to help if they tried to resist.”

Kerry shivered in the warm sunlight, at the spider patience—and spider mercy—behind that idea.

“I like to think,” Tara said quietly, “that they had to recover the data because Dr Kupiec was still able to resist from time to time, and deleted it while she still could want to delete it.

“Dee tells me that she was resisting when she walked away from us.” She breathed.

“Dee still cries for her.

“I remember how gentle she was, but . . .

“How much can you remember, Kerry?” It wasn’t a smooth segue, but Kerry understood.

Kerry sat upright, and took a drink of juice, trying for the darker part from below the ice. “A lot. From the ship, from Tribe, from the Buildings after I was caught and reprogrammed. I remember my friend Liz—she was the one that recruited me at our office, with Andrea and Jennifer.”

“What happened to—Jennifer?”

Kerry looked at Tara’s legs, thought about Jen’s. The last time she’d seen Jennifer had been in Jen’s stall in the ponygirl stable.

She’d been gentle with Jen, and Jen had been calm, but Kerry didn’t know whether she still recognized Kerry somehow through all the pony conditioning, or was just a well-trained mare by then, responding to any handler with a firm hand and soft words. She was certain she didn’t want to know.

“They didn’t find her on Dormignonne when they raided it. She may have been shipped while I was still being turned into a drone—I really don’t remember anything at all after that, after Circe put me to sleep. Not until I woke up to board the ship back after my lovely vacation.

“Deeply in love with Andrea.”

Tara looked at her. “That much seems like a good thing, anyway. Andrea.”

“Yes.” Kerry let out a breath she didn’t know she was holding. “I lost her while we were still Tribeswomen. It was what kicked me loose enough from the happy-zombie vibe that I could respond to Sue. More good bad luck—if I’d been there when ‘Drea needed me, I might just have grinned back at Sue when she needed me, and just tried to help her back into trance. That might have made her give up and obey, and then—”

“Don’t,” Tara said. “I’ve done that, Kerry. Sooner or later what-ifs get you to something that did go wrong.”

Kerry thought about Liz, trying to lead and save whatever women she had charge of, no matter how deeply they brainwashed her. Liz had been sold to someone and picked up, just before the news broke. If she’d been left in the office, if there’d been a little more time . . .

Tara was right. She shouldn’t.

Tara waited while she moved her mind off it. “Andrea,” she said, once again finding refuge in just the idea of the other woman. “I still feel that moment, when I knew they’d taken her. That they’d made her want to go with them, whatever the trance had her thinking they were.”

“I was watching my lover, when she was being taken,” Tara said. “I’m not sure if I envy you not seeing it happen to Andrea. I saw Dee triggered once, when Dr Kupiec was just about to put me under for the regression.” Kerry saw her squirm on the lounger without seeming to notice, and said nothing. She’d heard enough about life in the call centers to be happy she didn’t have that temptation buried in her memories.

Tara kept her arousal down through habit as she spoke. “But when Dr Kupiec came for us at the end, to take us to her Mistress, after she became our Mistress . . . all I could be was turned on while she hypnotized Dee. If I’d had the willpower to move, I’d just have played with myself while I watched her try to turn Dee back into her slave.”

Kerry suddenly realized how low and deep Tara’s voice had become. It was almost sultry now, but there was a bright red thread of hate wrapping it and keeping it from seducing her.

“My love,” Tara said with eerie calm, “was tearing her flesh to stay awake, to keep us both free from someone who already had hooks in her mind, and I—was dripping onto the floor.”

Kerry met her eyes.

“I can’t really tell her, not so she’d believe me. But it’s why I’ll never die on her. I can’t . . . when she says something humble about having less-powerful mind control to resist than I did, about how being in the slave hive might have been it for her, but I was stronger, I want to spank her ass.

“But I’d rather kiss it.”

They looked at each other and then away. The bay was still blue and smooth and beautiful.

“I wonder,” said Tara after a moment, “what did happen to Dr Kupiec. When she was herself, she was so considerate. And it wasn’t just the mind control she had to resist. I was some kind of prize for Circe, and to go out to her having screwed her out of getting me—I have nightmares about Dr Kupiec, too. Bring tortured for the last free thing she did. Perhaps purely in her mind, but neverending and terrible . . .”

Tara’s eyes had closed but her face had no peace. Kerry leaned back herself.

“I don’t think so, Tara. I remember when Circe found me in the stable—She stopped, seeing Tara stiffen.

“That was in—”

“Yes,” Tara whispered, looking straight ahead. “I remember the stable. I served there.”

I dreamed of serving there, Kerry thought, remembering the strong-bodied women in their harnesses, mindless, docile, mutely begging to be touched and ridden. She said nothing aloud as Tara swam out of her own memory and spoke to free herself of it.

“I was especially . . . I think that was part of how Circe started triggering me in the hospital.” Tara took a long, shuddering breath. “Yes. It’s OK. I’m OK. Stable. Fine.

“So Circe did what? In the—when she found you?”

“Right,” Kerry said, trying to ignore how clearly Tara was turned on. “She wasn’t that kind of—person. A punisher. Not someone to torment your doctor. She abhors inflicting pain. She seemed sad to see how badly I was doing, and when she—”

Tara looked at her. Her flush belied her skeptical stare.

“Yes, right, I know, Tara. I must add that right after she told me that, the very next thing she did was hypnotize me and send me off to the brain laundry.

“But I’ve been deprogrammed since—pretty effectively, they tell me, and I was only through the first phase—and that still passes as a genuine memory. I wasn’t just told to think she was a nice lady, and I don’t think I’d let her get close enough to trance me again unless there’s a trigger they missed. I’m not hooked on hypnosis anymore.”

“I am.” Tara looked out to sea again. “A recovering hypno-holic, never to be cured, just staying clean. I do it—mostly for Dee.” She smiled, looking more relaxed than a few moments past.

“I’m told when you’re recovering from an addiction, you’re never supposed to do it for another person. If that relationship fails, your support’s gone and you may need your . . . thing more than ever.

“But when I find myself wanting to surrender . . . " Tara’s lips curved into a reluctant and graceful smile. “Even just getting excited watching a vampire movie or the mind-control episode of some bad adventure rerun . . . I just imagine Dee seeing me go under. Seeing how hurt she’d be, to lose me to that. Turns me right off.

“It’s like the other. Not killing myself, each day. She keeps me alive, and she keeps me free. She makes them worthwhile.

“And I know she could stare down a swinging pendulum without so much as getting damp.” Tara’s face closed after the smile. “Brave and strong.. But I’ll always be . . . susceptible.”

Kerry wanted to say something brave, something about Tara being able to fight it too, but Tara had already found out her limits, and hated herself for them.

Instead she lay back. “You’re here,” she said. “And I am. And we’re in love with women we don’t think we deserve, and they wish we’d just relax and enjoy it.”

“Pretty much,” Tara said, and her even voice was almost convincing.

“And they got us together, so we could work out the obvious like the analytical women we are.”

Tara was nodding where she lay.

Kerry reached over and found Tara reaching back to her without needing to look. They clasped hands and then lay quietly, and their faces were dry by the time Dee and Andrea came out with the tea.


The moon was full and shining off the water, and in the windowed room Andrea had kept the lights low.

After spending some more time lazing in the lengthening sun, Dee had gotten Tara aside and explained what Andrea wanted to do. She’d seen the flicker of fear in Tara’s eyes when she was done, and she was about to tell her that Andrea knew, that Andrea was ready to call it all off. She’d hesitated, not wanting Tara to feel trapped either way.

But Tara had looked at her. “I know what regret feels like. And grief.” She’d pulled Dee close and kissed her, almost violently. “And love. If she can do this for Kerry, I’ll take the risk.

“And you’ll be with me.”

It wasn’t a demand but a plight of faith, and Dee had warmed to be counted on. “Nowhere else.”

They’d all adjourned to their rooms for the rest of the afternoon, and when they met at sunset for dinner everyone looked both rested and well-pleased. Dee’s lovemaking with Tara had been slow and very tender, and they’d drifted off to sleep together more than once instead of climaxing.

She guessed it had been much the same with their hosts, and knew there may have been something in Andrea’s touch today as they lay together that had mystified Kerry. Kerry’s eyes followed the shorter woman like one bewitched, if that were any token.

Now, as they lay around together with only a few candles and oil lamps to answer the moonglow from outside, Kerry was picking up on the signs that she was the only one not in on whatever it was. She seemed to look to Tara for clues, but Tara just smiled back at her.

Finally she said, “I know it’s not my birthday or anything close. So what gives?”

Dee grinned, but she heard the taint of worry in Kerry’s voice, and looked over at Andrea.

The redhead stood and stepped toward the sofa where Kerry was curled, her face full of apology for making her anxious.

“There’s something I’ve wanted to give you for a long time, Kerry. It’s not what I really want to do for you, but it’s as close as I can come.” Then she knelt, and Dee steered Tara to another couch, nearer to Kerry’s. Kerry looked at them, and at Andrea.

Andrea didn’t take her eyes from Kerry but inclined her head to the others. “I’ve been preparing myself for it for a while now, and when I was ready, I knew I needed someone here to watch over us. I thought about it, and these two women were the only ones I thought I could ask. And trust. They understand, and they’ll keep the vigil.” Now she looked over to them, and the hope in her eyes was so scalding that Dee could only nod slightly.

“They’ve been where we have, and back, and they know better than anyone what can happen.”

Kerry was staring at her, the candles making gold of her widened eyes.

“I need you to trust me now, Kerry. More so than ever before. I’ve never asked this of you, but—if you could look into my soul you’d know how badly I want to do this the right way.

“That means letting go. I could explain, but I don’t think it would work if I did. I don’t . . .” She sensed she’d said enough.

Kerry looked at her, almost as though afraid of her. “I trust you, ‘Drea,” she whispered after a long while.

Andrea bowed her head and then raised it.

“I want to hypnotize you.”

Kerry’s eyes widened and Dee felt Tara grip her hand.

“My love, will you let me?”

Kerry stared at her for heartbeats that Dee could count on her throat-pulse. She saw the fear rise in Kerry’s eyes, and watched as she accepted it. This trust wasn’t easy.

But it was there. Kerry settled back, and her quiet sigh echoed in Dee’s pussy. She barely moved on the couch, but her posture was utterly different now.


She was submitting to Andrea, opening herself so completely Dee could hardly watch for the beauty of it.

Andrea crawled forward like a lithe cat, gently parting Kerry’s knees and leaning between them.

“Thank you.”

She leaned inward, touching her lips to Kerry’s as her lover reclined passively. As she knelt back upright she slid her hands back along Kerry’s arms and took her hands. Kerry was already limp, already giving herself up, and Andrea held her carefully.

“You are a gift to me, Kerry. Always but especially now. I will keep you safe and well.”

Deliberately, holding Kerry’s gaze, she lowered a hand and reached forward to undo the clasp of Kerry’s top, gingerly arranging it to expose Kerry’s breasts to her gaze, claiming her openness. Kerry sat still, her eyes lidded for a moment as Andrea’s fingertip touched her.

“Open and free for me, now.” Andrea’s hand was light and still on her belly, warm below the newly-cool skin. “All I ask is that you listen to me, and just keep looking into my eyes. Remember that you’re safe and with me and that I will never let anything happen to you.”

Andrea glanced at the candle she’d positioned behind and above where Kerry sat, measuring the angle. “Look into my eyes and see the flame there. Right now it’s just a glow but if you concentrate and let my voice guide you, if you let go of your own thoughts and let mine guide you, you’ll be able to see the flame itself, perfect and bright and warm.

“Like you, Kerry, bright and warm, the perfect light I see by and the fire that keeps me safe and warm.”

Dee felt Tara near her, waiting for the weight to increase if Tara slipped into the trance Andrea conjured. But Andrea’s induction was gentle and slow, without the dominance Tara had been trained to crave and respond to, and Dee felt Tara stroke her arm, a silent message that she was still with her.

But soon Andrea’s tone had deepened, as Kerry fell deeper into her eyes.

“Trusting me, listening to me, hearing only my voice, knowing only what my voice tells you, Kerry. It’s easy to remember that there’s nothing else in the world, nothing else at all but what I tell you to think about.”

She let Kerry’s hands down softly and Kerry seemed melted, gazing raptly up at her as though she wanted Andrea to pounce on her. Kerry’s breathing was deep and regular, speeding slightly whenever Andrea spoke her name or touched her.

“Go deeper, love.” Andrea seemed to be taking the strength from her lover, her will growing more powerful as Kerry gave up her own. “You think only as my voice tells you to, only when my voice tells you to. Your thoughts will be what I make them now. You want me to shape what you think.

“Just as you’re told.”

Dee herself was feeling the way Andrea’s seductive purr was enticing Kerry’ s obedience, and she realized that she’d been falling slightly under herself—so much so that she hadn’t noticed Tara’s desperately quiet panting. Tara wanted to be Kerry now, supine and conquered by the silken-voiced girl who was the only one kneeling but so much someone to kneel to, now.

Dee was terribly afraid, then.

It would be so easy for Andrea to turn, the candle-glow in her eyes making them irresistible, and call softly to Tara and Dee. Her voice had already softened their wills and watching Kerry’s submission had stroked and aroused the slavegirl who still knelt unacknowledged, deep in both of them. She could bid them to their knees to begin their worship, as she turned her love into her slave and then brought them under the spell to join her.

Sunrise would find a new goddess and three mindless votaries, where four free women had been.

She remembered lying on the cold floor of Tara’s room, trying to resist the inner submission that melted her will, and looking up at Dr Kupiec’s irresistible sapphire eyes. There’d been regret in them, diluting the dominance. Dee prayed that Andrea, too, was hesitating as she thrust her power into Kerry’s mind.

Dee fought to remember what Andrea had said there in the kitchen, wildly out of congruence with the iced tea. “Dee, if this is all some doomsday compulsion they put in my head, if there’s some program that takes me over when I see I’ve been able to hypnotize Kerry with my own eyes and voice—that’s the other thing I may need you and Tara for.

“If that happens, save Kerry from me. I don’t care what you have to do to me.”

Dee had promised, but now she wondered if that would only make it sweeter to surrender to Andrea if she turned a demon-hypnotist gaze to her and said, “Obey.”

She felt Tara breathing raggedly next to her, and then Tara stroked her again—still there and still awake—and she took heart.

Andrea didn’t turn. She reared over Kerry, whose eyelids were sliding shut at a soft command that she would now see only what Andrea’s voice told her to.

“And now,” Andrea said, “you’re . . .

“. . . mine.”

But it wasn’t triumph. As she saw Kerry so open beneath her, her voice broke and she shivered once, putting out a hand to Kerry in case it roused her. Dee swallowed. Her worries—for Kerry, at least—were gone, but she knew why Andrea had raised them.

Kerry slept peacefully as she’d been instructed, trusting Andrea and obeying her. Dee remembered seeing Tara hypnotized, and she knew how it ached to see a lover like that. How strong the need was to protect her, even if it meant dying.

Kerry was truly Andrea’s now, body mind and soul, and Andrea held her dearer than herself.

Andrea looked at Kerry, and seemed almost in awe—not at her own skill as a hypnotist but at what Kerry had given her. The entranced woman seemed holy, now, wreathed and sanctified in the spell Andrea had cast. She bent down slowly, as though fearing to touch her—or wanting to prolong the moment. She touched her lips to Kerry’s and sobbed silently once, wincing.

Kerry lay there, lovely, receptive, spellbound, waiting.

Andrea seemed to remember that Dee and Tara were watching and she may have nodded toward them, but then she turned away, toward the moonlit sea, and looked up. Dee could still glimpse her profile.

Now her fears were for Andrea, and what she was about to do. Andrea spared herself only a moment and a long cleansing breath before she stared at the candle behind Kerry, the one whose flame in her eyes had snared Kerry ‘s mind for her. Now she focused her own gaze on it, and Dee watched her silently count down her own trigger.

It ended with a prayerful whisper.

“Please,” her lips said almost without sound. “Now. For her.”

Then she reached down, trembling, and took delicate hold of Kerry’s face, allowing herself to stroke Kerry’s cheek.

She began, softly and evenly, to speak.


Kerry leaned back against the smooth stone of the natural pool, enjoying water just as warm as the air was cool, with enough sun reaching her through the leaves to tease her with more warmth. She’d long since soaked and floated away whatever cares and worries she might have brought here—they were forgotten, anyway. In a moment or an hour she might stir and kick against the stone to slide out into the deeper water.

She thought briefly of other people, but gave up—each one was linked to her by some duty or question, and both of those were gone for her, now.

Happily, she shimmied slowly in the water, enjoying the small current she stirred up between her legs, but relaxed again, bemused to find she was too relaxed even to masturbate. She smiled at herself. Time for everything.

Something splashed quietly and she opened her eyes, not recalling when they ‘d closed. Something floated toward her, mesmerizing her with its delicate nested-V of wake, centered on her. She made no move to slide aside or ward it off, wondering how it would feel if it reached her, touched her soft belly.

It stopped and then something rose from the water, a head with short dark hair plastered to it, wiry shoulders, pert breasts that peered curiously along the water’s surface, a crooked smile, eyes that smote Kerry in the pit of her stomach with joy at the sight of her.


She gaped.

Sue kept smiling. “That’s what I thought you’d say,” she said, and stepped closer through the water to where Kerry sat. Kerry didn’t move, couldn’t, and Sue was tender as she put her arms around her and drew her into a kiss.

Kerry tasted her lover and suddenly made herself hug Sue back, holding her tighter than she thought she could. Sue stayed in her arms until she tired, saying nothing, but as she pulled away she saw the loss in Kerry’s eyes.

“No. I’m right here.” She grinned. “We’ll do that again in a little bit. I just want to look at you.”

“I’m dreaming,” Kerry said, to kill the illusion herself before it collapsed, no matter how firm and familiar Sue had felt against her.

“No, you’re not.” Sue held her shoulder. “I can guarantee that.” She nodded and raised her head slightly as though trying to urge Kerry’s next thought back into the nest before it flew. “And nothing’s going to happen. Like in your dreams.”

Kerry stared at her, then looked around, the bliss starting to fade. “Isn’ t this—?”

Sue gathered her close. “This isn’t Dormignonne, sweetie. Nor one of your nightmare places. This is somewhere I’ve wanted to bring you, a place I knew you’d enjoy being. It’s safe and warm, and there’s nothing to be afraid of.

“Or to weep for,” she said, as Kerry put her head on Sue’s shoulder, but there was no reproach as she rubbed her back and let Kerry cry it out.

“I miss you,” Kerry said, surprising herself as the words found their way out of her on their own. “Every day. Every time I—each—” She stopped, and filled her mouth with the taste of Sue’s skin.

“I know,” Sue said against Kerry’s ear.

“I wish I’d stayed with you,” Kerry said. “I should never, ever, ever have left you there.”

She collapsed again as Sue kissed her behind her ear. “You had to, Kerry. We both had to. If you’d stayed with me I’d still have died, and they’d have caught you and made you a slave again.

“And everyone else would have stayed a slave, for the rest of their lives. More ships, more women, more drugs . . .”

“No.” Kerry wasn’t sure what she was denying. “No.” Maybe the terrible quiet of the night around them as she walked away from where Sue lay, already starting to die from the heart attack. She hadn’t been able to bear turning around—“No.” She held Sue tightly now, and Sue returned it.

“I just left you there to die.” Kerry damned herself with each short word. “Alone . . .”

Sue’s hand was on the back of her head, as though on a child’s.

“I—never—saw you—again!” Kerry cried out, ashamed at how angry she felt, how accusing she sounded. Sue held her tighter still, resting her mouth against Kerry’s temple. As Kerry burrowed deeper into her, she kissed Kerry’s hair. Kerry tried to breathe.

She kept seeing Sue holding out the water bottle. Trying to keep walking while the pain tore her chest. Looking into Kerry’s eyes and speaking her own doom. Saying “I love you” to Kerry for the first time, as she held her for the last time.

Only the feel of Sue now kept Kerry sane as it flowed through her. Sue was here.

“Kerry.” Sue’s voice was very low. “It was a war. We lost each other but so many others got to walk away. You know that—it’s what you tell others when they try to console you, except it’s your own hurt that you’re setting aside.

“Your hurt.” Sue stopped, and Kerry realized she was crying. “Even the dead can grieve,” she barely whispered. “For what they can’t heal.”

Kerry looked up into Sue’s face, too lost in her lover even to feel guilt now for making her weep, and kissed her. She slid her cheek against Sue’s. “I don’t have any hurt now, my love. Not now.”

They stood together.

“They did make me a slave again,” Kerry mumbled against Sue’s neck. “They made me forget you.”

Sue kissed her again. “No, love. Not when it counted.” Her voice was clear of tears now. “When I saw that sign you left, even before I looked and saw you’d buried radios—I knew you remembered.

“I’d been ready to lie down and die then, Kerry, before I saw it, but then—you were with me, and I didn’t. I kept thinking that wherever you were, you weren’t quite gone. Each time it felt like it hurt too much I felt you next to me, telling me it was all right. That you loved me. That made it all right.”

She pulled Kerry gently to look at her, and Kerry almost perished in looking back at Sue’s face, close and warm from touching her own, as real as her lips could tell her.

“My dreams of you were always happy ones, Kerry. It’s so unfair that you’ re so sad when you dream of me.”

“When I dream of you, I—” Kerry stopped. When she woke from dreaming wretchedly of Sue she was in Andrea’s arms, and what—? “Sue, I—”

Sue waited, and then kissed Kerry when she said nothing. “Kerry, nothing you say can make me unhappy. Only seeing you hurt makes me that way, and we ‘re here so I can try to help.” She stared carefully at Kerry now.

“Because I love you. And I want you to be happy.”

“Sue . . . there’s . . . she’s . . .”

Sue looked at her, and for an awful moment Kerry saw hesitation in her lover’s eyes, but then she closed her own, just feeling Sue all against her, naked and smooth and open. She felt Sue’s lips on her eyelid and moaned quietly. She opened her eyes and saw Sue doing the same.

“Kerry, I love you. It’s the easiest thing in the world for me to understand that someone else would. And if she does love you, then I like at least that much about her.” She grinned, and it didn’t pierce Kerry to see it.

“Nor can I fault her taste in women.” As Sue leered at her, Kerry’s pussy was suddenly alive to the water lapping against it and the warmth of Sue’s thigh near it.

“Does she love you madly?”

Kerry was dizzy, and there was something in Sue’s stare that held her. She was in Sue’s arms, aroused by Sue’s nearness and feel, speaking of Andrea, and it was all right, warm and safe . . .

“If she doesn’t, Kerry, she doesn’t deserve you.”

“Yes, Sue.” It felt good to be open. “She does. Madly.

“And I love her. Madly.”

Sue kissed her. “Love becomes you. I want you to love, and smile, and come, and sleep soundly when you’re done.”

“So does she,” Kerry murmured.

“Then that’s enough, Kerry. It’s not about me, or her. It’s about you.”

She hugged Sue, and as she felt her nipple against Sue’s, her arousal heated up fast enough to make her gasp. Sue had to hold her up.

“Is the ground—?”

“What, sweetie?”

Kerry swallowed, breathed. “Can we lie down? The way we did that night?” She remembered lying on the ridge’s grass on Dormignonne, each adoring the other’s cleft with an intent tongue, so deep in each other’s joy that the hypnotic tribal drumbeat didn’t reach their minds and draw them helplessly back to submit forever. They’d driven each other on, and on, each orgasm a delicious gift that had to be returned . . .

“We could,” Sue said. “But remember? We were lying that way to keep from hearing the drums and sleepwalking away—your weird-ass idea and it worked.” She kissed Kerry’s forehead as she had that night, afterward, and Kerry almost cried again.

“But I wanted to look into your eyes when we made love, Kerry.” She was easing against Kerry, her hip teasing against Kerry’s abdomen in the water. “There are no drums now.” She put her hands on Kerry’s waist but didn’t force it, and Kerry shivered, helpless, needing Sue to take control.

“Kerry,” Sue said, leaning close and drinking in Kerry’s gaze with her eyes that were suddenly larger and deeper, “listen to me. When I make you come, you’re going to go back to sleep.”

Kerry felt her eyelids grow heavier and started to fight it, but the idea of resisting Sue, of denying her anything, was painful. Easy to turn from.

“Yes,” she whispered, and smiled back at Sue’s pleased look.

“I’ll be here whenever you need me.” She looked even more deeply into Kerry. “She can keep you happy out there, and I can be here.” Sue swallowed and seemed to hesitate again. “You didn’t fail me, ever, my love. If she does, someday, you know I never will.”

Kerry thought of Andrea, and started to shake her head and to speak.

Sue’s lips silenced her. “The wonder of you, Kerry, is that you’re loyal to both of us, and disloyal to neither. It’s part of why we love you so much.

“Now lie back and let me send you . . .”

Kerry obeyed, barely feeling the stone and even the water now, losing herself in the firmness of the hand Sue held her upright with, and the maddening gentleness of the one Sue addressed between her thighs now.

She looked at Sue’s face, not blinking even when they kissed. She fell helplessly into the vortex Sue’s fingertips slowly spun her into, her climax pulling her in as her world started quietly to darken.

She tried to say Sue’s name, to thank her, to beg to stay here in her arms. Sue took her mouth again and she let Sue drink her plea silently down. All she could do was buck ardently against Sue when it rolled over her and the ecstasy became Sue’s face and taste.

As she fell through the pleasure into a thicker bliss, she thought she said I love you.

She might have heard it answered, or echoed.

Inside, as she went to sleep, she feared no dreams.


Dee and Tara had held each other as they watched and listened. Andrea had spoken quietly as she took Kerry deeper and instructed her preparing the illusion, but loudly enough so the two of them could hear.

Dee watched her shudder as she narrated Sue’s appearance, and hurt with her as she rode out Kerry’s pain after Kerry was eased into releasing it. She watched Andrea listen to Kerry speak to another woman about their own love.

She watched Andrea turn aside each chance she had to wrap her own bonds around Kerry’s mind, to program Kerry to love her in a voice Kerry would never resist, for a slavery Kerry would never want to be freed from.

But Dee knew Andrea was under her own self-implanted posthypnotic suggestion, the compulsion she’d prepared of memories and others’ recollections of Sue, her way to become the other woman in her journey into Kerry’s mind and heart. Part of her was Sue, responding to Kerry as Sue would, and Dee wondered how Andrea was enduring that dual awareness, as she—they—held Kerry that suggestible and emotionally primed.

Fearing her own weakness with that kind of temptation might have been part of why she’d wanted Dee and Tara to bear witness, but as Dee watched Andrea guide her lover through it, she knew Kerry would have been safe alone with her. As Andrea intently masturbated Kerry to a climax and the hypnotized woman writhed and mewed almost inaudibly, Dee didn’t even feel like a voyeur—this was a ceremony, and she knew how precious a thing it celebrated.

Andrea held Kerry when Kerry spasmed and sighed and whispered I love you and lay bonelessly on the cushions, even more heartbreakingly vulnerable than when she’d first fallen into Andrea’s power. For a moment, she just looked with wonder at Kerry, and then, shyly, reached forward to cover her breasts again. She hesitated, and then Dee saw her lean forward and kiss Kerry again on the mouth, as herself once again and not as the woman whom Kerry had loved before.

Whom Kerry loved still, Dee knew. She’d watched as Andrea held Kerry and heard her say so. Andrea hadn’t blinked, and she’d smiled as Kerry had passed through the pain into the joy of being with Sue again.

The quiet redhead would never be the same in Dee’s eyes. She’d coaxed Kerry into surrendering herself, and ruled her hypnotized subject with mercy and grace, and then given her back her soul. She’d swallowed the terrible cost to herself, and Dee sensed there was more to it, and that Andrea was trying to keep it back as she nursed Kerry back up from sleep and memories.

Next to her, Tara had held her tightly through it, and once had whispered something to herself, so quietly even Dee had barely heard her.

They looked at Andrea now, shimmering with sweat, her burnished hair starting to stick to her head. She looked lovely in the exertion but Dee was worried. She’d cherished and soothed Kerry through the hypnosis, but Andrea herself had nothing but love and guts and their silent good wishes to sustain her.

Now she leaned forward and kissed Kerry awake, beaming down at her as she opened her eyes and inhaled deeply. Kerry blinked and lay still, too deeply relaxed yet to do much of anything, but she raised a hand toward Andrea.

She seemed only to have energy for one word. “Love,” she whispered.

Dee admired her choice, and was even happier as she saw Andrea, almost reluctantly, accept it.

Andrea looked at her, almost ashamed. “Did—?”

“Yes. Oh, yes. She was there,” Kerry said after a moment longer. “We . . . Andrea, how can I ever—?”

Andrea was crying then, and she turned to shake her head at Dee, who was coming off the couch. Looking back at Kerry, she reached for calm and said, “I wanted it to be true to her. I remade her as best I could from everything you told me, everything anyone else said about her.

“And I prayed. To her. To make it perfect for you. I dared to ask because we both love you.”

Kerry could only watch.

“But—” Andrea stopped and they all waited. “I’m sorry. I didn’t know it until we were there. Until I was being her.

“Kerry, I wanted to stay her, for you. You were so happy.”

Kerry blinked, dazed joy fading into disbelief. “Stay her—?” Putting it together was waking her up. “Oh dear god, ‘Drea, how far did you go?”

Another realization washed over her. “You were hypnotized, before, when I thought someone was using subliminals on you. You hypnotized yourself, in plain sight.”

Andrea nodded. “I had to be able to become her—and I know I’m that receptive a subject, anyway.” A tight smile flickered across Kerry’s lips but Andrea didn’t notice the irony. “When you realized something was off, I ‘d already conditioned myself enough that I was ready. I could stop.”

Kerry was glowing with admiration now, but Andrea was too lost to notice it.

“I was just afraid that you wouldn’t agree to let it happen.”

Kerry looked wearily at Dee, but Dee shook her head and nodded at Andrea.

“This one did it all,” she whispered, her own awe plain.

Kerry was still deep in the relaxation of the trance, and when she realized she couldn’t pull Andrea to her, she simply asked her to draw closer. Wide-eyed, Andrea obeyed, as if being the dominant for so long were more than she could take now.

But Kerry just asked softly, “Who are you now, love?”

The redhead paused, and answered in a defeated whisper.

“. . . just Andrea.”

She said it so guiltily that Dee saw Kerry’s face twist in pain, and she seemed to lose her strength again. She closed her eyes, then set her mouth and opened them.

“Andrea.” Kerry’s voice was still sleep-soft, but there was a core of strength in it. Dee wondered whether Sue was intervening somehow. Andrea responded to it, stilled and listening.

Kerry didn’t say more. She raised her hands and cupped them gently over Andrea’s ears, and then just looked into Andrea’s eyes. Andrea blinked, as though she were in a trance again, and gently bowed until she was resting her head on Kerry’s chest, still locked on Kerry’s eyes.

It was how they’d resisted the QLR telephone trigger at the very last, together. Remembering, with her own weight off her hands, Andrea moved them with dreamlike slowness toward Kerry’s ears, to shield her from the ringing she might be hearing, and fighting, again in her mind.

Kerry nodded ever so slightly when Andrea did it, not wanting to shift her nerveless grip.

But she’d gotten through. Andrea turned her face down and kissed Kerry’s breastbone. Kerry let her hands slide to Andrea’s shoulders.

“Please hold me.” Andrea flowed over her and wrapped herself around her.

Kerry lay in her arms. “Andrea. I love you.”

She turned, still too limp to move Andrea but seeming just to will her lover to look at her. Andrea looked. “Sue was with me now, Andrea. I know it was you, and what you did, what you risked . . . there aren’t words, dear heart, and if there were they wouldn’t be enough for me to give you.

“But she was there with me. Maybe you did channel her. Or maybe she was in me all along, waiting for someone else who loved me enough to help me find my way to her.

“But whether she did come through you, or you created her from all that you knew—you know the person she was. My Sue was free—she lived free and she died so the rest of us could stay free.”

Kerry rested a hand on Andrea’s head but her lover was oblivious, rapt in her. “Sue would never possess someone the way you wanted to be. Not to live again. Not even to be with me.”

“With you,” Andrea whispered, and Dee doubted she even knew it.

Kerry kissed her. “That’s from her, for trying, for love’s sake.

“In that wonderful place you let me go to, Sue understood. You spoke her words while you had me hypnotized, and I knew they were wiser than I’d been.

“Please, Andrea. Be as happy for me as she is, for having you.”

Andrea looked at her.

“Waking up with you in the morning is the sweetest part of the day, ‘Drea, until I can lie down with you again. And waking in your arms deep in the night—is the only thing that keeps me safe and sane.

“You’re not her—and she wasn’t you. Do you know how lucky I am to love her—and you too?

“I love you both. I won’t give either of you up.” She leaned forward and put her mouth to Andrea’s upper arm, and applied her teeth gently to it before settling back. “So don’t you ever even think of risking yourself like that again.

“Neither of us will forgive you.”

Andrea kissed her.

Dee saw no more, because Tara drew her from the room then, and in their bed they held each other without speaking until the dreams came. In them, as ever, Dee still held Tara, and Tara was sweeter and warmer than before.

In one of them, her own familiar ghost came near, as she sometimes did, and when Dee realized she was nude on the hospital tiles with Tara limp beneath her, and her hand was burning with pain that still was new, she knew she could look up.

As it always was in this dream, Dr Natalie Kupiec’s face was still achingly lovely, even torn by desire and panic, and her eyes sought Dee’s as they had so often before. She looked at Dee, bewildered by Dee’s calm this time, as Dee stroked Tara’s cool thigh.

This time, Dee knew somehow that there was a way to say something new.

“We’re going to be all right,” she said in dream-quiet, and held the ghostly psychiatrist’s gaze until Dr Kupiec nodded.

“You did it,” she added, and smiled until Dr Kupiec blinked and understood. “You gave us the time. Security got here and no one else came for us. Thank you.

“Please stay with us. Don’t let Circe take you away.”

Dr Kupiec wept and shook her head and turned away. Dee had to stay by Tara as she slept, but Dee knew that this time, as the other woman walked back on her enslaver’s leash, she had, at least, no souls on her conscience.

It had changed.

Eventually, Dee would dream a way to make Dr Kupiec stay, safe with them.

There would be more dreams.

Then her awareness of it as a dream made her too buoyant and she floated up to wakefulness from the depths. Surfacing into the darkness of the lighthouse’s guest room, she felt a familiar chill, knowing that in the real world Natalie Kupiec was far from her help, if she lived, with Circe or whomever Circe might have sold her to. All the dream-forgiveness in her soul would do nothing for the woman who’d saved her.

But beside her, Tara was still and faintly smiling, and Dee’s feather-kiss on her brow didn’t trouble her. Dee looked at the ceiling, dimly reflecting moonlight off of Biscay, and thought of their hosts, writhing a few rooms away or as still and loose as they were.

Safe. Loved. Free, to question and to grieve.

We can never make it right, she thought to Sue and to Natalie.

But you did.

We love you.

She turned to put her face by Tara’s, and slept.


* * *