Chelsea skimmed a hand across the surface of the water, watching the gentle ripples travel over her naked body. She leaned her head back against the sloped, porcelain rim of the tub, a contented sigh drifting from her lips. This was exactly what she needed: a long, luxurious bath to celebrate her recent victories. It was an indulgence she hadn’t enjoyed in what felt like forever. Her mother practically never allowed this degree of frivolity at home, and her freshman year schedule was equally unforgiving. But now…
Now, all the dominos were beginning to fall.
Once Master delivered the recorded induction, Chelsea would essentially have Vox in a bottle, ready to be deployed at her discretion. It would be a weakened version, to be sure—as her experience with over-the-phone hypnotism had shown, technological filters tended to dilute Master’s power. But that wasn’t necessarily a problem; a subtler effect could be more valuable depending on the context. Plus, as long as she had that video of Master, she could blackmail him into a plan B if the recording was a total bust.
Though she dearly, dearly hoped it wasn’t.
Despite the heat of the water, Chelsea couldn’t suppress a shiver as her hand glided up her thighs. The humming arousal between them crescendoed, drawing memories of last night into her mind. The night when Chelsea witnessed Master bring another girl to her knees. The night when Chelsea had almost succumbed herself.
She stiffened, her fingers instinctively teasing her eager folds. Even alone in her bath, everything reminded her of him. The scented steam curling before her vision, entrancing and intoxicating; the paradoxical feelings of exposure and openness, shame, excitement, and comfort mingling in one overwhelming sensation; the warm water soothing her weary muscles, drawing her deeper into its depths. It was so easy to imagine this bath as more than a relaxing respite—to experience it as an echo of the sweet surrender she felt under Master’s power. A preview of the mind-blanking bliss that awaited her at the end of her trials.
It was so easy. And natural.
She could just let herself slip under, give in to the pleasure and obedience. Those words were practically synonymous in her head already. And as her fingers continued their devilish work, Chelsea could almost convince herself that she was already the slave she longed to be. That if she gave up all pretenses of decorum and autonomy, if she just fingered herself silly and repeated mantras of subservience, she could finish the job and erase herself here and now. She could brainwash herself for him. What could be a more perfect demonstration of her devotion?
Chelsea bit her lip, her hands no longer caressing her body, but kneading it. Preparing her for her life of servitude. Her life of obedience. Her life of pleasure. She could do it. She could surrender herself here. She was practically his already. If she could just…rub all those pesky thoughts and doubts away…just cum what was left of her brains out then…
Chelsea hissed as the orgasm that had been building sharply declined. How ironic. Even as her body belonged to him, she couldn’t give the rest of herself up, no matter how hard she tried. She bit her tongue, willing her traitorous fingers away from her quivering, desperate flesh. Reminding herself of the truth of her situation:
Enslavement didn’t mean giving herself away; it meant Master taking her for himself. Until she was owned by him, she was just a stray, longing for the security of her Master’s collar.
The battle was not over. Her work was not done. But when it was, she would never have to work again.
“Suuurre has been in there a while,” Maddi observed, idly scrolling on her phone.
Veronica lowered her book long enough to shoot an annoyed look across the den. “What are you talking about?” she asked, as if it she wasn’t eminently, painfully aware of exactly what Maddi was referencing.
“Chelsea, duh,” The brutish redhead cocked her head towards the bathroom door. “Girl’s been in the bath for, like, almost an hour now. Startin’ to get worried she’s drowned or something.”
“Maybe you should go check on her,” Veronica quipped dryly.
“Maybe you should,” Maddi winked.
Veronica bit her tongue, forcing her attention back to her assigned reading. The thought of intruding on Chelsea’s little…Sunday Sauna Hour was tempting, but Veronica was terrified by what she might hear. Or see. After Saturday’s block party, the anxiety and angst she felt over her best friend had only sharpened.
There had to be a man. That was the only explanation.
Oh sure, Chelsea had done her best to spin the night’s events into something innocent. Upon returning from god-knows-where, she had explained her running off as tracking down some crush of Sophia’s, making sure he hadn’t set his sights on someone else. And, to hear Chelsea tell it, the mission had been a false alarm: Sophia had mistaken someone else for her beau, so there was no cause for concern. Everything was as it should be.
Chelsea had clearly underestimated Sophia’s capacity for drunken rambling and Veronica’s capacity for not being a fucking idiot. The moment the blonde had left, Sophia had begged Veronica to help her find a bathroom, blubbering and apologizing the whole way. Once that had been seen to, the loose-lipped Latina wouldn’t stop talking, babbling about her bad habits at her last school, groveling for assurance that she wasn’t ruining the night, and, most of all, yapping endlessly about this “Seb” she was so infatuated by.
At first, Veronica had just assumed he was some high school sweetheart that Sophia had never gotten over. But as words kept spilling out of her quivering lips, as she described the object of her affection and made vague allusions to a talent show, the awful truth became clear.
This was the same “Seb” that had put on that god-awful show in the dining hall. The same guy Chelsea had pretended to be hypnotized by—the guy she had pawed and barked at like a puppy, only to claim it was all a plan to embarrass him. And then she had skipped out on a football game to “study” and apologize to him. The sequence of events had always struck Veronica as odd, but now it was all adding up to one horrible conclusion.
Chelsea and Seb had to be together. Or, at least, Chelsea was trying desperately to make it happen.
It was the only explanation for all the weirdness that had permeated the semester so far. There was no way that Sophia was who Chelsea claimed, no way that the daughter of some business connection just so happened to have a raging lady-boner for the same guy Chelsea had tried to lick in public. It was too much of a coincidence. More likely was that Sophia’s connection to Seb was the real reason Chelsea wanted to get close to her. The story about the busty Latina’s rich family was almost certainly just a smokescreen so Veronica and Maddi wouldn’t ask too many questions.
Veronica could understand wanting to keep Maddi in the dark: that girl was shameless drama whore, and would only kick into overdrive if she found out Chelsea was infatuated with some would-be hypnotist. But why keep Veronica in the dark as well? She had helped Chelsea through plenty of boy-trouble in the past, including crushes on guys her mother would disapprove of. What was different this time?
And why had Chelsea called it “a way out?”
An awful thought struck Veronica: could her friend be planning to run away with Seb?
The idea was so ludicrous, she almost laughed out loud. But she stifled the humorless bark, burying her face into her book, hoping Maddi couldn’t see the racing thoughts behind her expression. Even if running away with Seb would explain some of Chelsea’s behavior…Veronica just couldn’t believe it. He didn’t have the connections or money to shield the two of them from the consequences, nor was he exactly dripping charisma or charm. Outside of his weird hobby, what did Seb have to offer?
Unless…it was more than a hobby. Unless he really had hypnotized Chelsea that night. Maybe he had continued to hypnotize her afterwards, training her to fall for him and accept him as her savior. Maybe she was already his slave, acting on his orders without even realizing it, making moves that to Veronica seemed nonsensical, but to him were some kind of master plan to…
No. No no no no. It was impossible. Hypnotism wasn’t real. It was just parlor tricks and pop psychology—no way could it actually change somebody against their will. And even if you could, there was no way Chelsea would submit so quickly. It just...couldn’t be true.
Veronica slammed the book shut, and announced that she was going to run some errands to her startled and perplexed roommate. In truth, she just had to get out of the apartment and clear her head. Thinking like this mere meters away from Chelsea’s glistening, naked body was just making her flustered and paranoid. She needed to think rationally.
Even if brainwashing wasn’t the cause, Chelsea was clearly spiraling out of control. Which meant it was Veronica’s job to save her, and bring her back to her senses. Ideally, without showing too much of her own hand.
But to do that…she might have to cross that line.
Sophia kicked her legs restlessly under the table, trying not to look too anxious as she glanced around the restaurant. Across from her, Seb stared at his phone, absently twirling a chopstick in his free hand.
Where the hell were Miki and Tobias?
The four of them were supposed to meet for sushi, but so far the other pair was almost an hour late. Seb and Sophia had tried to fill the time and space with as much chatter as they could manage, but as time wore on, Sophia became more and more nervous the other voice would pipe up, scuttling the evening entirely. Seb too seemed distracted, his eyes wandering whenever the talk lulled, his expression clouding over with thought. And so silence eventually settled between them.
It was an odd sensation. Familiar, yet alien. Back in high school, it wasn’t unusual for them to spend almost an entire evening together without speaking a word, each wrapped up in a game or book of their choice, comforted by the mere presence of their companion. Now, there was a specter of tension lingering in the quiet, unspoken words trailing in its wake.
Had Sophia really been mistaken last night? Or had she really seen Seb at the party?
That was the question that kept threatening to leap to her tongue. In their previous sparks of conversation, she had avoided bringing up her Saturday adventures, fearful something might slip out. Seb too seemed wary of the topic, though whether that was intentional or her imagination was frustratingly unclear. She wanted to believe that she was just being paranoid—that all was well, just as Chelsea had told her. Yet despite the alcohol-soaked haziness of her recollections, she could’ve sworn she remembered Seb’s face in the crowd, his hand linked with that of some drunk, dazed, big-titted slut, his voice ushering her along.
That was what stuck out most in Sophia’s head. Something about it felt so…familiar. So singular. There was no way she could’ve mistaken it for anyone else…right?
“They’re not coming,” Seb abruptly announced, turning his phone so Sophia could see the text chain displayed there. “Miki apparently forgot about some assignment due Monday, and Tobias accidentally fell asleep waiting for her.”
“Huh,” Sophia’s brow furrowed. “That’s…weird.”
“Not for them,” Seb shook his head. “Actually, there’s a good chance they just got done, uh, ‘making up’ after some argument, and don’t want us to know. Either way, maybe it’s for the best they didn’t show.”
“Ha ha, yeah, maybe,” Sophia lied. Crap. Now what was she supposed to do? If the other voice piped up now, would she be able to fight it? Or maybe she should just make up an excuse now to slip away, and not risk any more…
Hang on—was Seb staring at her cleavage? His eyes quickly flicked back to his phone, with an urgency that all but confirmed it.
A rush of excitement bubbled up in Sophia, her thighs squeezing together as she tried to hide how pleased she was. She had chosen this outfit for that explicit purpose: a t-shirt basic enough to not seem slutty or obvious but, when paired with the right bra, it made a tight, enticing package out of her two largest assets. She folded her hands in her lap, subtly pressing her breasts together as she leaned forward to read the menu, hoping to draw another glance. Out of the corner of her vision, she saw Seb shift in his seat. It was impossible to confirm, but she imagined he was looking at her again, not with innocent curiosity, but with hunger.
Maybe…she could stick around for longer after all.
But if so…she needed to ask:
“So, uh…” she tossed her hair over her shoulder, trying to force a casual air. “You get up to anything fun last night?”
Seb blinked, then gave a wincing smile. “Ah, not really. Tried to do some studying but ended up getting sucked into a YouTube hole instead. What about you?”
Sophia hesitated. A part of her wanted to give some vague lie and move on, to take Seb’s dismissal as the truth. But the worry still gnawed at her stomach, unsated with anything less than certainty. She had to know. “It’s…actually kinda silly but…you know, Chelsea, right?”
“Y-yeah,” Seb answered, chopstick continuing to twirl around his thumb.
“Well, she invited me to some big block party with her friends. And it was…a lot.” Sophia added with a shaky laugh.
“That sounds like Chelsea,” Seb shook his head. “Hopefully it was still a good time though?”
“Um. Mostly.” Sophia paused. Was it her imagination, or was he avoiding looking at her now? “Actually, I coulda sworn I saw you there too. Though I was pretty deep into the night at that point so…”
The chopstick spun free from Seb’s hand, clattering across the table and onto the floor. He hissed, then quickly stooped to pick it back up, shooting Sophia an apologetic smile. “Sorry. So uh, you said saw someone who looked like me?”
“I guess,” Sophia answered. “And he sounded like you too. It was weird.”
“Forget weird, that’s actually kinda scary,” Seb bugged his eyes out in mock horror. “Apparently I have an evil doppelganger running around.”
Sophia allowed herself to laugh. “I guess so.”
“Did you happen to see which way he went? You know I have to hunt him before he hunts me. There can be only one.”
“Only one what? Nerdy white guy on campus?” Sophia joked.
“Hey, c’mon, I’m not just some nerdy white guy, I’m…” Seb paused. “No, actually, you got me there.”
Sophia laughed, and didn’t press further when Seb redirected the conversation towards the appetizers. She wanted to believe him, wanted to trust that he was the same boy she had fallen for in high school, who hated parties as much as he hated lying.
It made the most sense that way, didn’t it? She was so wasted at that party she could hardly see straight. And Chelsea herself had confirmed that the mystery guy wasn’t Seb! Why would she and Seb both lie about that?
Seb swore he could hear his breath echoing.
It was an absurd thought, of course. The whole point of these recording booths was to prevent echoes and distortions—even if he shouted at the top of his lungs, the ridged, sound-roofed walls would ensure nary a whisper made it back to his ears.
So why were they positively roaring?
His laptop was open on the table in front of him, next to a microphone and stand he had signed out from the music department. He had rented the equipment and room for an hour, but now already half of that had passed with nary a pip of progress. With a frustrated growl, Seb tabbed over to the email Chelsea had sent him, as if going over her demands one more time would finally spark inspiration.
As much as he hated to admit it, they weren’t entirely unreasonable. Chelsea had specified the file format, length, and equipment he should use, as well as a general outline for the sort of induction she expected. But outside of that, there was no script. In theory, he could try and slip in a few covert commands or two, triggers that would ensure she deleted her blackmail material and refrained from similar schemes in the future.
But was it worth the risk?
The more Seb stewed over his course of action, the more he realized how meticulous his opponent had been. A recording of the Vox probably wouldn’t be as potent as an in-person dose and, if Chelsea listened to it in small enough samples, she could probably scrub the entire file for tricks risk-free. Plus, with the deadline she had provided, there was no way he had enough time to test the recording’s effects, or come up with a script clever enough to slip though Chelsea’s notice.
And if he tried to pull something and failed…well, the less he thought about it the better. Sophia’s interrogation over sushi had been bad enough—if she found out what he had been actually doing that night, he wasn’t sure he would ever be able to face her again.
Trying to counter-move Chelsea right now was too dangerous. He would have to play by her rules for now.
If only the Vox agreed.
Seb rose from his chair, pacing around the small, boxy room one more time. He closed his eyes, trying to summon the Vox to his lips, but all that escaped was a growl of frustration. Who knew mind control abilities could be so fickle? No matter how hard he tried, no matter how much he pushed, the dam in his mind remained immovable. Accessing the Vox without a desirable subject in front of him had always been difficult, but doable, thanks to his recently heightened libido. But being trapped in a drab, sterile box, under threat of life-ruining blackmail…could there be anything less arousing than that?
Seb slumped back into his seat with a groan. He stared at the implacable microphone before him, racking his brain for any way to make it seem sexy. This sort of thing wasn’t a problem over the phone—maybe that was what he was missing? The sharpness of Chelsea’s breath in his ear, the way her words trembled when she was fighting him, the knowledge that she was there, sinking on the other end of the line, helpless without even knowing it…
Seb opened his phone’s image folder. It was still there, the photo she had sent him. Her mouth was in the midst of arguing, but the rest the picture told the real story. She was on her knees in front of her bed, her nude body open and eager for his enjoyment. Her pale thighs spread wide, traces of her arousal dripping onto the floor beneath her. One hand was clasped around her breast, its soft flesh spilling between her fingers as she teased the pert pink nipple at the center. And her eyes…those bright, crystalline pupils were rendered vacant and drowsy, her heavy lashes in the midst of fluttering closed under the weight of her Master’s influence.
He wanted her.
There was no denying it.
Even before the Vox, Seb had been drawn to her. Beautiful yet sharp, alluring yet elusive, she had been a presence in his fantasies since their first class together. But back then, she was just a dream, an illusion he could indulge in from across the room, safe and secure in the knowledge that she would never give him the time of day, much less her body and mind.
Now it was different. She wasn’t just a dream—she was an opponent. An obsession. A subject and a seductress. A toy who constantly toyed with him. A servant who subverted his whims. Even as she shed her clothes and control for his pleasure, it was he who was laid bare by her. His worst impulses. His deepest desires.
He didn’t want to fuck her. He wanted to own her. To lash her body to his pleasure and her mind to his whims. To strip her of her ambitions, her independence, her will, and leave her exposed as the helpless slut they both knew she was. She would serve his desires and beg for his cock. She would plead to be made his, grovel to give up more and more of herself, until she couldn’t even remember a time before his control, before his words had become her thoughts and his pleasure her purpose.
As these images danced between Seb and his phone screen, he could feel the Vox stir. The gates in his mind were opening, flooding his body with power. His cock strained against the confines of his jeans, arousal and avarice pumping through his veins.
Seb glanced over his shoulder, confirming that the narrow window in the door was clear: nobody was waiting or spying outside. He carefully unzipped his pants, ensuring that his back would be blocking the view, before sliding his boxers aside and allowing his erection to pop free. He began the recording on his laptop, then slid his hand beneath the table, stroking and stoking the heat between his legs, Chelsea’s pictorial surrender still blazing before his eyes.
For once, he didn’t shudder from the Vox’s visions. He welcomed them. Allowed them to sweep all other thoughts away. He imagined Chelsea on her knees before him, completely at his mercy.
“Listen closely, slave,” he growled.
Veronica sat in her darkened room, her laptop shining brightly on her sheets. Even with the door closed and blinds shut, even as she knew everyone else was asleep, she still worried that Chelsea would see her. The light of her screen was blinding, paralyzing, a gateway to a forbidden world, a beacon of her impending betrayal.
No…she wasn’t a traitor. This was for Chelsea’s own good. Veronica had tried to be reasonable. Had tried to face Chelsea as her friend. Now she needed to act as her protector.
Even if it meant causing both of them pain.
The cursor in her window blinked. Impatient to begin. So Veronica set her trembling fingers on the keys. And began to type.
“Good evening, Mrs. Jaeger,” the email began.