The Erotic Mind-Control Story Archive


by connie k

(mc, ff, mf, fd)

Chapter Four

“Maya …”

Even hypnotized, Carnegie could hear the choked anguish in Venus’ voice upon hearing Helen say the name. Her face still looked wooden, but he could sense the splintered pain culled from the dense, still forest of her mind just below the surface.

He turned back to Helen. “What is your name? Your real name.”

“Helen … Hendricks.”

Carnegie leaned back as if pushed. Maya Hendricks. The late Maya Hendricks. It all made sense now.

“Helen? I want you to think back, think about my pocket watch. Back when I hypnotized you. I want you to remember how I woke you up. Remember when I awoke you from that wonderful trance? Do you remember?”

“Yes. I remember.” She answered almost robotically.

“Great.” He snapped his fingers in front of her face. “Wake up now, Helen.”

Her eyes rolled up as she inhaled deeply. Her hand reached out to clutch his. He held it firmly in return. She turned her head to look at the hypnotized woman beside her.

“Ohhh … shit.”

* * *

“Fuck that! I’m not going anywhere!”

Carnegie sighed heavily. “Leigh, I can’t let you get any more involved in this. I’ve already done more than I should have. I’ll probably be suspended if I don’t lose my license altogether. I may be reckless, but I’m still your doctor and you’re my patient. It’s for your own safety.

“Helen, I want you both to drive to my apartment and wait there until I call. The police are on their way. It won’t be much longer.”

Helen hadn’t said a word since she awoke, but nodded with acceptance. Leigh held her ground.

She was pushing on those blank, white walls now. She could feel the give. She wanted to know what she dared not know and needed to know more than anything. Have you seen her?

“I have to know where they are!”

It took another plea before Carnegie relented. Leigh approached Venus, lying on the bed in vacant repose.

“Venus? Where is Clara? Have you seen her?”


The response was hard sharp and short.

“Where is she?”

“There …” Venus could see what Leigh could not. “Goddess sold her.”

“Who did she sell her to, Venus? Tell me!”

Leigh’s voice was insistent, louder. Carnegie put his hand on her shoulder but she leaned away from it, closing in on the naked, helpless blonde she hated.

“I believe … I believe it was Carrington. Lucy Carrington. She’s …”

“She’s what?”

“She’s … not like Goddess.”

At least she was alive the last time Venus could recall. Not a sex slave in Japan or dead like Helen’s sister. Leigh looked at Helen again—she acted like she was still hypnotized. Numb.

“Where is Rea?” Leigh asked.

“Rea …”

“Most of all, sweet Rea. You’ll never see her again, but I’ll let you remember her. Oh, yes, I will. All the while, she’ll be with me. And there won’t be anything you can do about it except ... feel the emptiness.”

“Where is she, Venus?”

Venus looked even more lost as her eyes fixed upward. No ceiling, no roof, just the stars in the sky. Bright and distant. Twinkling and out of reach. Like Rea.

“She’s Goddess’ pet.”

It took a lot of pleading, but Carnegie finally got Helen and Leigh to leave. The trancing and the emotion upheaval eventually sapped their rebellion.

The watch was swinging.

Carnegie had gradually guided Venus into his trance. She hadn’t noticed any difference. She wasn’t fighting to awaken. She welcomed the dreamy state the watch and his voice led her to. And escape. The months of being awake and controlled by Goddess had swallowed up who she was—even the constant guilt of the old Venus—leaving only the pangs of emptiness Goddess seated firmly at the front of her mind.

She could dream now. Rea was in her dreams.

“Venus. Do you remember that night when you first hypnotized Leigh and Clara and Rea?”

“I remember.”

“You remember it so clearly. Tell me everything that happened afterward with them.”

Carnegie had his suspicions, but as Venus recounted every detail he began to fully understand the web “Goddess” had ensnared all of them in. Venus most of all. She wasn’t fighting. She was opening.

“Venus? When will you see Goddess again?”

* * *

The veil had been lifted, and Rea could see her surroundings with surprising clarity. This is what it used to feel like. This is how my mind works. This is who I am.

Rea was awake. There was no twilight, no thought-killing commands, no urge to beg for reinforcement. So much of her mind had been shut off for so long that she couldn’t tell whose voice it was in her head. But she understood.

“If you begin to think, your strongest thought, your compulsion will be this: Help Mistress Venus.”

She pulled the spinning girl—Lynn was her name—to a stop. Rea looked deeply at the girl’s hazy hazel eyes and simple expression as if she were staring at a reflection of herself. Programmed. Controlled. Empty of everything that wasn’t Goddess.

It struck her, in that moment, how unfamiliar it was to think on her own, no longer tied to the whims of someone who considered her nothing more than a piece of furniture. A chair. A clock. A plaything.

Rea had to think for both of them. Both sides of herself. The Rea then and the Rea now. She had to help Venus. But she needed to help herself first. The blank girl in front of her. The girl barely aware of the seconds ticking off in her head.

What do I need myself to say?

“Stop, Lynn.”

The blonde came to a stuttered stop. “Nine forty-six, Goddess.”

“Turn the clock off, Lynn. Here.” She handed the girl the black cell phone she had grabbed without thinking. “I want you … I command you … to go into your bedroom, dress and then I want you to call your family and have someone pick you up here. Do that now, okay?”

“Yes, Goddess.”

“Do you remember the number? Do you remember this address?”

“Yes, Goddess.”

“Good. When you make the call, I want you to wake up fully and completely. You will no longer be hypnotized. Go do that now.”

Urgency and calm. Urgency and calm. Rea searched the house, finally finding two twenties stuffed in one of Goddess’—Liz’s—purses. She dressed in clothes she never wore (jeans, sweatshirt, flats) buried in the corner of the closet. She grabbed the keys to Liz’s other car.

She was in a dream. A vivid, waking dream. Everything was clear. She had something to obey—her own conscious mind. She half-expected to wake up back in bed with Goddess. She moved slowly, purposefully, not daring to create the ripples that could break the illusion. Rea didn’t know exactly how to get where she was going, but she knew where to start—the beach. She had to get to the beach.

Rea took a deep breath as she opened the door. She needed to concentrate, reminding herself how to drive a car. As she closed the door behind her she heard the familiar voice of the spinning girl from inside.

“Come … pick me up?” Then a shattering wail. “Mommy??”

* * *

“You Peterson?”

The portly, older man nodded. Standing next to him was a short woman he assumed was his partner. Carnegie waved them into the condo.

“It’s about time. I wasn’t sure what to do.”

Carnegie led them into the living room, but it was the woman who brushed past him.

She glowered at Venus, wearing only a robe and bleary-eyed expression.

“You let him hypnotize you, you stupid bitch!”

Carnegie turned to Peterson—he couldn’t read his face. But he knew who the woman was now.

“You must be Liz.”

She ignored him as she shook her head at Venus.

“I’m disappointed in you, Venus. I had hoped you would have been stronger.”

“You opened the door,” Carnegie interjected. “Anyone could have walked in. But that’s all over now.”

Finally, she turned toward him … and sneered. “I wouldn’t be so sure about that.”

He felt a shove from behind. Peterson was pointing a gun at his face.

“Sit down.”

Peterson grabbed a hard-backed chair and swung it at Carnegie’s feet. Stupefied, Carnegie sat down as Liz rummaged through drawers. She pulled out a pair of handcuffs. Pink, fuzzy handcuffs.

“Put these on him,” she ordered Peterson, who yanked Carnegie’s arms back and hearing the click-click as they tightened around his wrists. “Where are the other two?”

“You’re not going to get away with this,” Carnegie said, trying to keep the desperation out of his voice. “You can’t kill all of us. Four more bodies? Even you can’t get away with that. Just give it up.”

She dug into his jacket and pulled out his wallet. Then his phone. She handed them to Peterson. “Find them. Check his address. And they’re surely on his phone log. Call them and get them back here.” She stood in front of Carnegie with sadistic glee. “Maybe I will. Maybe I won’t.”

“I’m not going to be part of it. I’m not killing anyone.” Peterson was waving the gun and Carnegie began to struggle, hoping to break free from the chair. But he was stuck fast. Peterson noticed and aimed the barrel at him again. “Unless I have to.”

“You’ll do what you’re told,” Liz snapped. “You’re into this up to your neck too. All those playthings I set up for you weren’t free.”

“Stop this!” Carnegie yelled. “This is insane!”

It was if the word insane triggered Liz. Her smirk was gone.

“He’s right,” Peterson said. “I can’t go along with this.”

“Fine,” she said with an eerie calm. “Just leave me the gun.”

“I can’t give you my gun! I’m on duty in six hours.”

“Just tell them you left it at home. Really. Do I need any more complications? I’ll get it back to you in the morning.”

Peterson reluctantly handed over the weapon, saving the rest of his anger for Carnegie. “You better do as she says.”

“Make the calls.”

He took a final, long look at Venus, oblivious to it all, before walking out. Liz returned her attention to Venus.

“Oh, Venus. I’m so very disappointed. Obedience program, Venus.”

Venus hesitated but for a moment, her mind slapped senseless.

“I … obey.”

“Yes, of course. Feeling so much better now, aren’t we, Venus?”

“Y-yes … Goddess.”

“Kneel.” The strings were cut, and the puppet collapsed on herself before her Goddess. The black skirt lifted, already yellowing white panties pulled down. “Now, worship.”

The tongue came out first before Venus buried her face between Liz’s legs. A moan escaped quickly.

“How did you do that?”

Liz laughed. “You are a novice, aren’t you? It’s programming. Mind control. No handcuffs needed. Her conscious mind doesn’t want to be hypnotized and modified into becoming my slut. But her subconscious? Oh, it just loves what I do to it.”

Another moan, and Liz pressed her fingers onto her clit. A long strand of cum followed her hand up as she reached out and rubbed it against his face. He turned his head sharply away.

“Do you like how I smell? Ben, isn’t it? You like how I smell, Ben? It’s one of the side benefits to having pets. Their arousal becomes my arousal. After all, why should they have all the fun.”

“You go under with them?”

“Not under. What’s the point in that? But I do feel what they feel. Arousal is so much more … intense … when it’s triggered. And the deeper she goes, the wetter I get and the more fun it is for me.”

Liz continued to moan, continued to drop Venus deeper and deeper into obedience. Carnegie was helpless as he watched. He could see Venus’ nails digging into Liz’s ass, hear the breathy commands, smelled the heat that connected domme with mind-controlled slave.

“Your thoughts aren’t your own thoughts anymore, pet. They never have been. They taught you to say what I told you to say. They taught you to crave my approval. They taught you to go along with everything I did.

“Do you remember, Venus, when I broke your mind and built it back, took your soul and changed your memories? I didn’t do anything new. We’ve done that for years to others. But you’ve always been a bit weak, a puppet. I should have programmed you completely from the start, but I didn’t want to ruin you as a dominant. I never expected you to … fall in love.”

Carnegie could hear the muffled cough as Venus struggled to keep her lips tightly pressed to her controller as she seeped into her mouth. And the satisfied purr that followed. Liz looked down at her pet with supreme dominance. Basking in the painful words that poured into Venus’ mind.

“You never made your own decisions, Venus. Not even from the beginning. It just felt that way. I freed you from your freedom a long time ago.”

He could see the shudders pass from Venus’ body to Liz’s, orgasmic pulses growing stronger. They were close.

There was a knock on the door, and Liz flinched from the interruption. She was so close. She stepped back from Venus, as if drunkenly, lost in her own programming. Venus was frozen mid-lick.

“Ah, our two surprise guests,” she mumbled out, full of arousal. “I’m so anxious to see who you’ve brought for me.”

Liz staggered toward the door, squeezing her breasts hard before straightening her skirt. She held the gun behind her back.

She opened the door—it was Rea.

* * *

They were quiet in the car. Neither of them wanted to talk about what had occurred between them. Carnegie didn’t tell Helen about what happened to Maya, but it was clear that he knew something and kept it to himself. Helen didn’t need to hear him say it. All she could hear was Venus’ painful call to Maya over and over. Maya was gone.

Leigh, now that she knew that Clara and Rea were both alive, was grateful to be driving in the opposite direction of Venus. Yet she felt Helen’s pain.

“I’m sorry about your sister.”

Helen gripped the wheel tighter. “I’m sorry I lied to you.”

Helen’s phone rang, causing both women to jump slightly. She dug into her purse.


“Helen Wallace, please,” said the man on the phone.

“Uh … this is she.”

“This is Det. Peterson of the San Diego police. We need you to come back to the scene. We have a hell of a lot of questions.”

“Is everything okay? Is Dr. Carnegie okay?”

“Everything is fine. We just need you and the other young lady to come back here and help us get things straightened out.”

Helen flashed Leigh a reassuring half-smile. “Oh, okay. We’re on our way.”

Helen did a U-turn in the street and accelerated. Leigh sighed with relief. Then Helen began shaking her head slowly. She slammed her hands on the wheel.

“No, no, no!”

“What is it?”

Helen looked down and checked the caller ID on her phone. It was Carnegie’s number.

“Something isn’t right.”

Helen floored it.

“What is it?”

She passed the phone to Leigh, her eyes fixed forward.

“He called me Helen Wallace.”

* * *

Rea was as startled to see Goddess as she was to see Rea. She knew she’d be there, but seeing her face, her growing anger, made Rea’s concentration slip.

“What the hell are you doing here?” she spat out. “Pet?”

Rea could see Venus kneeling with her robe open and her face red and slick over Goddess’s shoulder. And she could see a gun in Goddess’ hand.

“Don’t …” Rea looked at Goddess’ angry face. “… leave me, Goddess.”

“You stupid fool!”

Rea lunged at Goddess, falling to her knees as her hands slid down her back to her ass as Goddess staggered back. Rea buried her face between Goddess’ legs and they tumbled backward, landing on the floor.

“Get … off me!”

But Rea knew this territory well, and followed the trail of wetness to Goddess’ button and sucked it into her mouth. Liz pushed her head, trying to get away, but Rea gripped her ass tighter, forcing her darting tongue deeply between Goddess’ folds.

Carnegie stared at the bizarre union from across the room. Liz clawed at Rea’s head, but she had stopped trying to squirm away. She was close again, and her pet lapped and bit and sucked her exactly the way she had been trained.

“Oh … fuck! Yes, pet, yes!”

Rea’s shoulders pressed her Goddess’ thighs wider apart and drove her thumb inside the wet, quivering flesh. She began kissing up her body, pulling a nipple sharply between her lips. She felt Goddess buck, heard her helpless moans. She licked higher, bathing Goddess’ neck with her tongue, all the while pistoning her thumb in and out of her spasming pussy.

She nipped Liz’s ear, and the whispered command—the signal—came through her as a medium.

“Good girl … Venus.”

Liz’s body shook.

“Good girl, Venus,” Rea said again, louder, and across the room Venus grunted from the spontaneous orgasm.

“Good girl, Lynn,” Rea whispered again, dripping with seduction, as she clung to Goddess’ writhing body. “Good girl, Yuki.”

Rea was speaking directly into Goddess’s self-conditioned mind, soaked with arousal, and the wave of orgasms—bam-bam-bam—made her body shake uncontrollably. Her hands dug into the carpet, the handgun released from her grip.

Rea rolled over quickly and grabbed it. Liz still hadn’t come down from orgasmic assault as Rea stood up and leveled it at Goddess. It took Liz another stunned moment to realize what had happened. Rea backed up, then turned to look down at Venus, whose hands were fingering her pussy furiously.


Rea said it without realizing, but her eyes spoke to Venus as she looked up, searching through the blankness before finding them.

“Rea …?”

Liz had risen to her knees, trying to catch her breath, and the look of fiery hatred nearly scalded Rea as she turned back to face her, the gun limp in her hand.

“You little bitch! I knew I should have severed you two! Permanently!”

Carnegie tried to lift himself and the chair, but couldn’t. “Rea? Uncuff me! Hurry! The keys are in that drawer I think!”

“Not so fast.”

The anger on Liz’s face turned sly.

“Mooncloud, program one, Venus.”

Venus’ body stiffened. Rea looked at her in desperation. Liz had turned her mind off. Rea didn’t know what to do. The gun was in front of her as she turned from Liz to Venus to Carnegie and back again. She had given herself a single purpose—“Help Mistress Venus.” Now, she wasn’t able to decide what to do next.

Liz walked slowly toward Rea, who held the gun weakly in her hand. She never used a gun before. Never held one in her hand. Venus was here now. And turned off.

“Give me the gun, pet,” Liz said softly.

“No!” Carnegie rocked the chair, trying to straighten his legs, but it was useless. Rea backed up a step and Liz stepped forward.

“Venus de Milo, program one, Rea.”

The gun lowered and Liz stepped forward and grabbed it from Rea, who looked like she had been jolted with electricity. The trigger. It emptied Rea’s mind so suddenly, so completely that she felt herself floating—her fear and anger replaced by arousal and blankness. It was the trigger. There was safety and comfort—the new trance was the old trance, the familiar place where Rea didn’t have to think anymore. No worries. Deeper than the twilight.

Carnegie’s eyes were back on Liz, her short, round body swaying slightly as the wheels turned in her head. The situation was getting even more complicated and Liz’s body and face showed her uncertainty.

“Give it up, Liz,” Carnegie shouted. “When Helen and Leigh get back here you’ll have five bodies to deal with. Peterson’s already losing his nerve. You can’t keep them all hypnotized. You can’t keep control of everyone. It’s too much for even someone like you to handle.”

The smile in reply was defiant.

“I won’t have five bodies to deal with. Just yours. And you’re not going anywhere. It won’t take long for me to get them all to forget. Forget everything.”

She began undressing Rea, once again tugging at her pierced nipples.

“I know all of Venus’ methods. When the other two arrive, it shouldn’t be difficult to trigger them too. Sponge away all their memories. Leave them empty for me to refill … with complete, utter, total obedience. To me.”

She took a moment to appreciate Rea’s nakedness before facing Carnegie.

“I made a mistake with Venus and Rea here. I let them remember too much. But the other two? It’s easy to forget when someone’s mind is being emptied. Emptied of everything but how good it feels to be emptied. Unpleasant memories are the easiest of all to forget. Especially when that emptiness is so … addictive.”

* * *

Rea and Venus stood stiffly naked before Liz like two mannequins waiting to be dressed and posed and put on display. Carnegie could see that Liz was nearly salivating.

He sat, handcuffed and wide-eyed, trying not to gag on Liz’s soiled panties that she had stuffed in his mouth. He grunted in disgust and shame.

“Oh, I haven’t forgotten about you,” she cackled. “Eventually I’ll crack your mind. I think I’ll bury you in the backyard next to the geraniums. Of course, you’ll dig the hole yourself. Mindlessly and obediently. I even have some Tetrodotoxin for the car ride in my trunk. You’ll love what it does to you. You may even get an erection.

“I’d have Venus hypnotize you—she was a wonderful hypnotist—but, unfortunately, she and Rea are going on a trip of their own.”

She circled the two entranced woman slowly. Even after the dramatics of Rea’s attempt to rescue Venus, Liz was still turned on. The fate of the two women was in her hands and her sticky, swollen pussy responded to the thrill of it. She stopped in front of Rea.

“Poor Rea. You almost made it. Clever girl. It will be a shame to lose you, but I’ll survive, don’t you worry. So submissive.” She caressed Rea’s cheek as one may a wayward daughter. “Perhaps too submissive? It seems, even after all this time, that I couldn’t take what already been taken. Fortunately, for both of us, you get to have what you always dreamed of having—an eternity with Venus.”

Rea had remembered and forgotten. Remember. Forget. Mistress was next to her, but she could have been an ocean away. She was alone in her mind with only Goddess’ programming for company. Obey. Don’t think.

She had a faint impulse to run. To grab Mistress’ hand and run away, but the months of obedience to Goddess kept her frozen in place. She had to obey. Mistress’ old trigger—“Venus de Milo, program one, Rea”—had been reinforced by Goddess often enough that it wasn’t merely a suggestion soaked into her mind. It was who she was. Submissive. Controlled. Weak.


Liz stepped in front of Venus, equally glassy-eyed and blank.

“I suppose it always had to come to this, Venus. Even though I did enjoy torturing you. Serving me while always wanting what you could never have. Sweet, young Rea. Alone here in your lovely condo while Rea slept in my bed. She made love to me every night. Did you know that?”

Liz paused, letting the words sink in.

“Attention, Venus. You need to listen and obey.”

“Yes, Goddess. I obey.”

“Very good. Did you enjoy that empty longing, Venus?”

There was no hesitation. “No, Goddess.”

“I don’t suppose that you did. And now you’ve put me in a very difficult situation. You and your … former slave. Lucky for you, I have a most enjoyable solution. For you. And for Rea. Rea is next to you. Hold her hand, pet.”

Venus clutched Rea’s hand, and even though their faces showed no emotion, Carnegie could see the caught breaths, the firming nipples, the slight quiver on their lips. The invisible connection was there.

“I’m not mad, Venus. In fact, I’m very pleased. I can give you what you want and it’s what I want too. It may cost me some money in the long run, but it’s a price I’m willing to pay for your happiness. And it will tidy up some loose ends for me too. I will miss Rea though.” She leaned in to whisper in Venus’ ear. “She was a great fuck.”

Carnegie was struck by what he saw. He could see clearly the thin streak of wetness that rolled down the inside of Venus’ leg. Yes, the trance kept her blank and aroused. Yet it occurred to him that it was not what it appeared.

It was a teardrop.

“Now, we are going on a special journey, Venus and Rea. Just outside that window. We’re going down … to the beach. Go down now, both of you. Down to the beach. Feel the sand under your feet and the cool night air filling your lungs as you walk toward the ocean. You both love the ocean. Can you see the ocean, Rea?”

“Yes, Goddess.”

“Yes. And as you walk across the sand, holding hands, you can see a bright, shining light in the distance. It’s very far away, but it shines brightly in your mind. You can see it as you reach the edge of the water. It’s calling to you. Do you know why?”

“No, Goddess.”

“No, Goddess.”

“It’s because you are no longer women. You are mermaids. Beautiful mermaids. Holding hands. But mermaids don’t live on the land, do they, pets?”

“No, Goddess,” they answered together. The image of the beach and the water and the bright light sharp in their minds.

“Two beautiful mermaids in love. And that light, that shining light, is the light of home. Where mermaids live. It’s calling to you as you walk slowly into the ocean. And then something magical happens. You are mermaids, after all. So as your feet touch the water, they become mermaid tails. Yes. Beautiful tails and colorful fins.

“Now, swim out into the ocean my two mermaids. Follow the light. Swimming quickly, yet smoothly. So eager to get home. Together. The two of you. Two mermaids swimming out into the ocean. Farther and farther away from the rest of the world. As far as you can go.

“But eventually … your arms are getting tired. Your tail is tiring. It’s getting harder and harder to breathe.”

Carnegie could see the labored breaths, their hands locked tightly together, straining. He looked at Liz and yelled into the panties. She merely turned and smiled.

“So very tiring. But something else magical is happening, mermaid Venus and mermaid Rea. You see, you are mermaids. And mermaids can breathe under water. You can breathe under water. And you can swim under the water, so free and relaxed. No strain. Only peacefully under. Swimming toward the light.

“Breathe deeply now. Deeply under the water like good mermaids. Breathe deeply now as you get stronger and swim faster. Down. Free. And heading home. Together. Together forever. The deeper down you swim and the deeper breaths you take the sooner you will reach home.

“Do you understand?”

“Yes, Goddess.”

Rea was a beat behind, but the slightest trace of a smile grew on her face. “Yes, Goddess.”

“Yes. Now … I’m slowly bringing you back. Back to the condo. Back with Goddess. Venus and Rea. My two mermaids. Holding hands. And you can hear the call of the ocean again. You have feet again, but you want your tails. A mermaid should always have her tail.

“So I want you both now to walk out the door and go down to the beach. The vision of home—the bright light—will be there in the distance calling to you. You will walk into the ocean, then swim just as before. Until your arms get tired. Again. Swimming far and fast. Until it gets hard to breathe. And then? Then you will plunge into the depths. Breathing underwater like the other mermaids. Like Maya. Yes, Maya is with all the other mermaids.

“It’s time to go now, you two. Do you understand what you need to do?”

In unison: “Yes, Goddess.”

Carnegie had been trying to yell, but his urgent calls were ignored. He couldn’t stop them. He couldn’t save them.

There was a loud knock on the door before they could even take a step.

“Open the door, please. This is the police.”

Liz spun around, looking for the gun she had placed on the table by the couch. Carnegie pushed with his feet, toppling the chair into her path and she tumbled over him.

“Just kick the damn door in!” Carnegie knew that voice. It was Helen.

The door flew open with a crack! Two blurs in blue rushed in.

* * *

There would be more pain to follow.

The succession of trials—Carnegie attended every one, less out of curiosity than obligation. The truths and the lies, the young women one after another. The abuses, seen and unseen. Every one of them cried.

Leigh attended when she had to testify multiple times, but her wounds were healed and, more importantly, her blank, white walls were crumbled to dust before his eyes. She sat with Rea when the judgments against Liz and Venus and the others came down. Peterson and Lucy Carrington.

Yamamoto was not among them.

Helen’s search had ended. Carnegie kissed her cheek when she boarded her flight home. There was nothing left to say. She had both failed and succeeded in doing what she came for. She got her revenge, and saved lives beyond the one she could not save.

It didn’t take Clara long to get her orderly life back in order. Carnegie had assisted in finding her a good psychiatrist to do that. She simply refused to let her long nightmare affect her. He could see it on her face on the witness stand. Yet Carnegie also noticed that beyond a few, nervous conversations with Leigh and Rea outside the courtroom, Clara wanted to move on with her life and school … and forget.

She never talked to either of them again.

Outside of some sharp rebukes from his superiors and various committees for his actions, Carnegie returned to work. There were more than a few times when he would sit alone in his office as the light from outside dimmed and contemplated on the lives affected by what had happened. His most of all. He was a changed man. Only time would tell, he knew, if it was for the better.

* * *

It was winter, and even though the snow never fell it could still get chilly in L.A. in December. Rea took off her heavy coat and smoothed out her thick turtleneck.

Rea waited patiently for Vanya to get settled. Rea visited her every week in prison, but each time was like starting all over again. She wasn’t sure why she came, at first.

“I painted your portrait,” she said proudly. Rea was painting again. It gave her strength and joy, and she was desperate to share it. “You’ll have to wait until you get out of here to see it though.”

Vanya smiled brightly behind the thick, bulletproof glass that separated them. “I have something to look forward to!”

The long pauses that punctuated their talks were growing shorter, like wound tracks with time. After all she had been through, Rea could finally see clearly the world the way it was—the ugly and the beautiful.

She thought about the spinning girl not spinning, the Asian girl not chained, the slave on top. Of Leigh and Clara and Denise and Erik all back at school, maybe studying for finals. Of Liz in her own hell. She was no longer that melancholy girl on the beach, her life even then without much meaning. She had lost herself that day … and, at the end, found someone in her place.

“More than that, I hope. I’m not here for closure, Venus.”

The nod was purposeful. The wall between them disappeared.

Vanya tried to be playful. “Are the doctors giving you a hard time or are you your old self again?”

“I don’t want to be my old self again, Venus.”

The seriousness on Rea’s face pulled Vanya closer.

“I still have some money saved,” Vanya said cautiously, almost sheepish. “I owe you a trip. Anywhere you want to go.”

“I’ll think about it.”

“You know, you don’t have to, Rea. Seven years is a long time. Three, if I’m lucky.”

“Venus … Liz got what she deserved. And she wouldn’t have without your testimony. You’re getting what you deserve too, I think.”

“Well,” she said slowly, “I only did it to cut my sentence, Rea. I’m no saint. I believed I knew what I was doing and that’s the same as willfully doing it. I also know what it feels like to be on the other side of that pendant. It may sound hollow saying that to someone else … but not to you. I hope I’m allowed to have regrets. But I don’t regret a second with you.”


Rea said it point blank, soberly. Vanya frowned.

“Rea, we may need to try a different kind of relationship. I don’t think I have the heart to do that with you again.”

Rea leaned back. “You don’t have to hypnotize me, Venus.” Rea tugged down the top of her turtleneck—the black, leather band around her neck exposed.

Vanya—Venus—licked her lips and grinned.

* * *

The warmth from the sun kissed her face.

The summer waves were bigger than usual today, but the crashes were gentle and the pull of pebbles and sand as they receded was soothing on her ears. She felt the brush and tickle of fur on her arm—Buster wanted attention.

“You’re just a big, ol’ love sponge, aren’t ya?” she asked, petting the golden hairs across his head and down his back. She looked at her forearm, not for the scars, but for the darkening freckles the sun had coaxed.

“C’mon, let’s get in the water.”

He jogged backward into the wet sand, giving her a playful wave. She hopped up, tossed her sunglasses behind her and dashed after him gleefully.

He started swimming ahead, then waited for her to catch up as she walked, then bounced, then dove headfirst into the water …

Leigh’s head popped up, seeing his wide smile.

She laughed again.

The end