Spoiler Alert: This is a TFT Book 1 Cliff Hanger.
Warning: Adults only.
After two weeks, Tom had even amazed himself. Having not much to do but work out, a twenty-four-year-old’s metabolism, and something to prove, he had shed fourteen pounds and snapped right back into shape. He could tell that Ginger was impressed and proud. They’d had a few bumps, but Tom now thought he understood what was expected of him. He was making his (real) master look good, and that could only be to his benefit.
What had started out as terrifying was a lot of fun, at least while Jacqueline was away. Even when she was rough, Ginger was a hoot. And sexy. She had warned him not to think of her as a friend, but Tom now realized that she was full of shit. Ginger liked him. They had fun, and he was granted a level of intimacy that indicated that she must trust him. The pair spent a few hours a day together, much of that time in physical contact, whether Tom was giving her a massage, servicing her, or they were working out. The tears he’d cried had been followed by praise and what seemed to be genuine respect. Ginger loved to eat and appreciated everything he prepared. When she was impressed, she told him so. This was a hell of a way to settle his student loan debt. Any emotional damage from his initiation or Ginger’s “assertions of power” had either healed or been repressed.
Tom was starting to feel some happiness. He was in love with Ginger. And now that he had some wind under his wings, could handle thinking about Kate for brief periods. Of course, Tom didn’t allow himself to believe that there was a chance that they would get back together. But there was still almost a year before he had to worry about his servitude interfering with whatever happened when she returned. The stress of not finding a job was gone. He had one, and it took up most of his time. There were still ropes to learn but it wasn’t rocket science. All he had to do was try to make Ginger happy. And, except for the occasional reminder that she could, and would, do whatever the fuck she wanted to him, that was fun. Even then…
The other women of ANF were due back this evening and were hosting a small party for the solstice. Tom had been cooking and cleaning all day. Ginger informed him that he would also be joining them for dinner. He understood that “Thomas” would be on display, but hoped “Tom” got to at least catch a buzz. He’d worked hard, perhaps he’d earned a reward.
Jacqueline’s return had Ginger in a great mood all day. She had even asked if he needed any help in the kitchen. When he was mixing the peanut butter chocolate bombs (homemade Whatchamacallit bites), she leaned in with one hand on his back, swirled his finger around the mix, and then sucked it clean with a moan and “Oh, my God, that is amazing!” eyes.
When the women walked in the door around six, the house smelled great, they both agreed. Jacqueline and Ginger kissed, “Tom” got a hug and a peck on the cheek. He assumed his trainer had sent satisfactory reports. The ladies all disappeared upstairs, and Tom could tell from the water pressure that someone was showering. He wondered to what extent they were “saving water” and started to get aroused. He also started getting nervous. The last time Stella and Jacqueline had been involved was…fill in the blank: Life-changing, humiliating, scary, and/or a huge turn on. Stella sucked. She was cute but unnecessarily bitchy.
And then there was Jacqueline. While Ginger could be many different people, there was no hiding her playful, if twisted, nature. But the boss was a tough read. They had only a few hours of shared history, but Jacqueline knew the effect she had on him and wielded her power with cool expertise. Her smile could give him goose bumps, a hard stare chills down his spine. He was scared of her but also wanted her approval. With Ginger, he felt like a young man playing a role. Jacqueline just made him feel like a little boy.
But in those hours running and swimming down to fighting weight, Tom had come to terms with his immediate circumstances. He had enough experience managing fraternity pledges to recognize the manipulation. Scaring him was part of the process and part of the fun. For both parties. Of course they weren’t going to kill him! Nor would they hurt him badly. There was just no upside to it. They’d all have a better time, Tom included, if they just pretended he was in danger (and he didn’t take his shirt off in public). His feelings were going to take a severe beating, though. But in the end, he got to hang out naked with three hot women. Pride, his sense of masculinity, his self-esteem? Who the fuck cared, man? Three hot women…
When Marcus and his friend Theo buzzed, Tom closed the oven and answered the door wearing two mitts. Based on their few interactions, the big man apparently thought Tom’s name was “Motherfucker,” but that was an act. Marcus was a nice guy. He was impressed with the daily improvement in Tom’s physique and the work ethic that enabled it. But it hadn’t occurred to Tom that there would be a male audience for this evening’s humiliation.
The men, dressed in pimpy velvet suits, made themselves drinks and chatted him up in the kitchen. They poked around to see what was on the menu and were pleased. But then Marcus asked where Tom’s apron was, and the fun began.
Ginger came down first, dressed as her namesake from Gilligan’s Island in a sequined dress. She even drew on the little mole. There was some resemblance, especially in the big blue eyes, and it occurred to him that he had some chance of actually answering the age-old question, Ginger or Mary Ann?
Jacqueline’s costume, a skintight, tie-dyed cotton dress and flip flops, might not have been anything the Midwestern farm girl/castaway would have worn, but it made it a tough contest. Tom guessed they had all hit up the Garment District. It was the first time he had ever seen Jacqueline not wearing something formal. He couldn’t hide his fascination. Stella was the only disappointment. She was dressed as a man but looked more like a boy in a Frosted Mini-wheats commercial. Eww. There was something cooking on this solstice night.
Ginger went to Marcus’s arms and Jacqueline to Theo’s. Tom hoped that didn’t somehow pair him with the Boy Wonder.
He started packing the dumb waiter. Ginger surprised him by asking if he’d like a drink.
“Is that OK, ma…”
“…Ginger. Yes. You’ll thank me later.”
To be easy, he asked for whatever she was having. When they all sat around the table, there was something pink at Tom’s place. Marcus asked where the umbrella was. He knew what Tom’s vulnerability was and thought it fun to poke away. As if seeing Ginger and Jacqueline hang all over the men wasn’t hard enough.
Once seated, Tom was just a quiet member of the party. He wasn’t catering staff, but didn’t have anything to add to the conversations and knew better than to try. Everyone made polite comments about the meal, plates were cleaned, and all helped themselves to seconds. It was a success. Though the conversation was animated and everyone was having a great time, Tom noticed that he wasn’t the only person who made his first drink last the entire dinner. It was interesting, though maddening, to see how Marcus and Ginger interacted. While Tom was awed by the gorgeous blond, Marcus treated her with cool detachment, as though she was just another perfect ten he dated. And she ate it up, almost begging for his attention. It made Tom feel like even less than nothing. Now he understood how Cooper must have felt.
When they finished eating, Jacqueline indicated that Tom’s role in the evening was about to change.
“Thomas, that was excellent, thank you.” People agreed. “Please clear the table and serve dessert.”
Cinderfella. He nodded and got to work. Jacqueline didn’t require a “Yes, ma’am.” Clean plates made it a quick job and the dumb waiter was re-packed in just a few minutes.
Rather than plate them, Tom served the desserts in a large bowl. He returned to take his seat when Jacqueline stopped him.
“You can eat in the kitchen, Thomas. We’ll call you when we’re ready.”
“Shall I make coffee, ma’am?”
Her grin told Tom that he had pleasantly surprised her.
“No, thank you, boy.”
Tom didn’t touch the dessert, not after all that hard work and a pink cocktail. He walked downstairs trying to hold his head high. At the bottom, he heard the whole table erupt in laughter and his heart sunk. He got started on the dishes.
Almost an hour later, Tom was summoned. The mood in the room had changed. Everyone, it seemed, was in on a joke. He stood at the door and awaited his orders. Ginger spoke.
“Thomas. Nice job on dinner. And, nice job over the last two weeks. You worked hard, didn’t you?”
“What was your motivation?”
“I wanted to impress every…” She must have known what would trip him up because her smile got crooked, as it did when she was fucking with him. Still beautiful, just scarier.
“Impress whom, Thomas?” Ginger asked.
Toughen up. He knew what she wanted: what he had given them at his “interview,” but this time, in front of the women’s real lovers, who probably wouldn’t find the word acceptable from his white, suburban lips. The truth was, though, he loved the word. He just didn’t want to insult anyone by saying it.
“I wanted to impress…you, and Ms. Stella, and Ms. Jacqueline.”
Jacqueline shook her head.
Tom was already flushed and for the first time all night, felt like he was disappointing the boss. He was being tested, and passing the test was worth getting dressed down or even punched. He breathed deep and said, “I wanted to impress my…masters.”
“Oh!” was the shout from the entire party. “There it is!” Marcus said, congratulating Jacqueline. Only Theo’s face showed sympathy. Tom’s burned red and he wanted to disappear.
Jacqueline wasn’t smiling for long.
“With the shame again…I thought we were past that.”
“I’m not ashamed to say that I worked hard to please you. Because you’re my Master.”
Stella and the other two men were lost in a fit. Tom’s submission was a riot.
Jacqueline tented her hands and nodded.
“He’s plenty cocky, the shame is just an act,” Ginger explained. “You pretty excited to strip down and show off, boy?”
How to answer?
“I’m excited to do…whatever pleases you, Master.”
Stella tried to collect herself. She was giggling as much at Tom’s humiliation as her own attempts to look serious. And Jacqueline looked odd but happy. Marcus just stared at him, as though he couldn’t believe any real man would ever bow down so easily. They all looked…crazy.
“Oh, Thomas!” Ginger said, “Do you remember what you asked me before we started working out the other day? In the basement?”
He had to think back. What would she be referring to? Uh oh.
“I asked if you thought you could still handle me…now that…”
“Now that I was in fighting shape.”
“And what do you suppose was wrong with that?”
“It wasn’t…I didn’t show you proper respect, ma’am.”
She shook her head and tried not to laugh.
“No, you did not…Thomas, do you really think you can take me?”
Ginger clarified: “Do you think you can take me down, Mr. Wrastler? Even once?”
She squinted at him. “You better make that the last lie you tell me!…You’re kind of in a pickle now, aren’t you, bitch? You got cocky, and now you’re getting called on it…There’s only one way to find out, though. Isn’t there, Thomas?” There was commotion around the table. Was Ginger suggesting…? “Let’s head down to the basement and you can show us how good of ‘fighting shape’ you’re in. Shall we?”
Four chairs were pushed back; they had all known the plan. Tom doubted she could mean that they would actually go at it. They probably just wanted to strip him down and belittle him. Egos healed.
“Come, Thomas!” She led him by the hand down the stairs and made him go first on the narrower basement steps.
Once they had all assembled, Ginger disappeared into the bathroom. Unbeknown to anyone else, she was not only changing but honoring her repaired knee with a good round of stretching.
Jacqueline and Stella meanwhile busied themselves getting Tom out of his clothes. It was a whirlwind of soft touches, sweet smells, and boner-popping fun. When he was down to just his boxer briefs, he stood at full mast. Jacqueline ran her hands over his smooth chest. He was red faced but encouraged by the delight in her eyes.
“Thomas!…Well done! You’re a different person…Look at this! No more love handles…Good muscle tone…Outstanding! In just two weeks! Oh, to be twenty-four!”
“I wanted to make you happy, Master.”
“And you certainly have, boy!” She gave him a kiss on the cheek. Tom’s dick strained at the cotton/Lycra blend. “Though, apparently not Ginger!…I guess she’s moved on to your back…My goodness…Did you at least learn your lesson?” He nodded and tried to hide a smile. He could already sense his trainer’s astonishment with, and joy in, his ability to take a beating. This is what made Tom proud now.
Ginger emerged in her standard workout uniform of black tights and a sports bra, this one teal blue. It did nothing to change his boner situation.
“Come on, Tom,” she called from the center of the room. He walked to her feeling good about the view he gave Jacqueline. Behind him, he heard everything from giggles to manic laughter, not necessarily directed at him and his erection. It dawned on him that they were all tripping on mushrooms. What the fuck?