Then she hears about an exclusive weekend retreat called The Haven, a place that specializes in introducing people to pleasures they could never have imagined. Shocked at the idea, but unable to resist finding out more, Natalie decides it's time to put her hears behind her.
Once at The Haven, Natalie meets the enigmatic and disciplined Simon, a man who is used to getting what he wants. And he's decided he wants Natalie...
|Publisher:||Grand Central Publishing|
|Product dimensions:||5.34(w) x 7.82(h) x 0.89(d)|
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Haven of Obedience
By Marina Anderson
Grand Central PublishingCopyright © 2012 Marina Anderson
All right reserved.
On a Sunday night in April, twenty people were assembled in the reception area of The Haven. Rob Gill, the owner, was addressing them as they listened attentively. ‘I trust you’ve enjoyed your stay over the past three days,’ he said, a half-smile playing around his lips. ‘At the very least I’m sure that you’ve all learned something new about yourselves.’
Jan Pearson, a twenty-eight-year-old freelance casting director, felt herself start to blush. She glanced at the rest of the group, all of whom were watching Rob. They looked so conventional now: the women in their trouser suits or designer leisure clothes, most of the men smartly suited. This was in sharp contrast to the way they’d looked over the past weekend. For example, she’d last seen the man standing next to her–now safely encased in his three-piece suit, white shirt and dark blue tie–kneeling submissively at the feet of a voluptuous blonde, his hands tied behind his back as he waited, trembling with excitement and need, for her finally to allow him a cruelly delayed climax.
‘What it’s important for you to understand,’ continued Rob, ‘is that you are now part of a very select and secret society. When you arrived here you signed a form, swearing to keep our code of silence. You may find this difficult once you start mixing with friends from your everyday life again. But if any of you should break your vow, then you will be ostracised. In other words, you won’t be allowed to visit us again.’
Jan’s mouth went dry. Even after just one weekend she was addicted to the pleasures that she’d learned to enjoy here, at this very special retreat. If anyone had told her how erotic she’d find it to be forced into obedience and submission she would have laughed at them. In all her relationships she’d been in control, and that was the way she’d liked it. However, her stay at The Haven had changed her completely.
Rob was still speaking. ‘I’m sure that many of you here today will want to stay in touch with each other, and that’s how we like it. You’re all like-minded people now. The only people here that you’re not free to continue seeing are any of your tutors. You have to remember that for us this is a job of work. It isn’t personal.’
The nipples beneath Jan’s V-necked, semi-fitted ribbed cardigan suddenly stiffened and she felt the caress of the material against the rigid tips. It was Rob’s fault–his words had reminded her of the previous evening.
She’d been lying on her bed in an exhausted, sated heap after a long session with one of the other tutors and two of the guests when Rob had entered the room. He’d been accompanied by a trainee tutor, a young lad who hadn’t had anything to do with Jan before her visit. Rob had told her that they were there to pleasure her for an hour. At first she thought there’d been a mistake, and she’d explained that she’d already been very well pleasured. It was then that his expression had changed, changed to one that she’d become used to over the weekend. His piercing blue eyes had narrowed.
‘I hope you’re not still trying to tell me what to do, Jan?’ Rob had asked. Remembering the punishments she’d endured before she’d come to understand the rules of The Haven, Jan had hastily shaken her head. ‘That’s good,’ he’d continued. ‘Because as you know, here you’re expected to be obedient to our wishes. It’s Marc and I who wish to pleasure you: your wishes are of no importance.’
To Jan’s surprise, Rob’s words had excited her. All the same, she had felt certain that her tired body would be unable to respond no matter what the two men did. How wrong she’d been, she thought now as memories of the intense orgasms that they’d wrenched from her rushed through her mind.
Jan recalled the way Rob had sat astride her, his hands kneading her breasts with sweet-scented oil, while Marc had kneeled at the foot of the bed, parting her legs and using his tongue with incredible skill on the soft centre of her. She’d lost count of the number of times her body had contorted, arching upwards in spasm after spasm of helpless pleasure. It had been an incredible experience, and when Rob had finally climbed off her and run a hand over her sweat-streaked flesh she’d thought that for a brief moment there had been something personal in his gaze. Now it seemed that she’d been wrong. Or, even if she was right, she would never be able to find out.
‘I hope that we’ll see you here again some time,’ said Rob as his speech drew to a close. ‘I suggest that those of you who’ve learned that there can be pleasure through pain should exchange phone numbers. For most of you, your new sexual preferences might come as something of a shock to the people you’ve previously been intimate with.’ A ripple of uneasy laughter spread through the room.
Jan’s buttocks clenched beneath her ankle-length pencil skirt as she recalled the hot, stinging sensation caused by the latex whip, wielded so expertly by Simon, Rob’s second-in-command. She’d cried out with shock and anger the first time it had happened to her. But as she’d been spreadeagled on a large wooden table, her wrists and ankles held firmly by other guests, she’d been unable to do anything about it.
Slowly, as her ‘punishment’ had continued, she’d been surprised to realise that the discomfort quickly passed whilst the heat from the lashes seemed to race through her flesh, causing her breasts to burgeon and her belly to swell. Yes, she must certainly exchange some telephone numbers before she got into her car and set off again for London, and her busy work schedule.
‘And now it’s time for you all to go,’ said Rob, with a smile. ‘Remember everything you’ve learned here. You don’t want to waste your money, do you?’ Again there was laughter, but this time it wasn’t embarrassed laughter. Jan tried to catch Rob’s eye for a moment, wanting to prove to herself that she’d been right and that she was special to him. But without another word he turned and left the room. With a start she realised that the crotch of her panties was damp. Just thinking about the things that had happened to her had excited her again.
A man of about Jan’s own age approached her. She remembered him from the Saturday. He’d been an amazingly adept lover, although at that stage she still hadn’t mastered how to hand over control completely. Now that she had, sex with him would probably be even better so when he asked if she’d like to give him her phone number she accepted eagerly.
‘I was thinking of having a party some time soon,’ she told him.
‘That’s a good idea. I hope I’ll be on the guest list.’
Jan smiled, tucking her short, sleek brown hair behind her ears. ‘I thought eight would be an ideal number. What do you think?’
He nodded. ‘Yes, eight sounds about right. It’s been an interesting weekend, hasn’t it?’ He stared intently at her.
A shiver ran through her. ‘Very interesting,’ she said softly. As he touched the side of her face lightly with his fingers Jan remembered the way the same fingers had forced her hands above her head, and how his mouth had fastened around her left nipple, sucking cruelly at the delicate skin as he ignored her protests–because that was what the weekend was all about. Suddenly she wanted him again, there and then, and she could see from the look in his eyes that he knew it.
‘Don’t wait too long before you ring,’ he commanded her. Whereas before her stay at The Haven she would have resented his tone, now it excited her.
‘I won’t,’ she assured him. Then, reluctantly, Jan picked up her cases and began the journey back to London.
By the time Natalie Bowen arrived home at her small but expensive flat on the outskirts of London it was nearly nine o’clock. A tall, slim and typically cool English blonde, she realised that she was in danger of having nothing in her life apart from her magazine. Admittedly the magazine was a great achievement. She’d started it eighteen months earlier, deliberately targeting women in the twenty-five-to-thirty-five age group, single and working in high-powered jobs. She felt that most magazines were trying to teach women how they could juggle home, children and work, but she wasn’t interested in the home-and-children side. She dealt with fashion, health and relationships, both in and out of the workplace, and the magazine’s success had exceeded even her expectations.
All of which was very pleasing. But somehow, despite all the articles in her magazine aimed at helping women like her, Natalie had got lost. Her tendency to be impatient, and her ability to cut straight to the heart of the matter, were assets at work–but not when it came to staying in a relationship. She had no trouble in attracting men, but was beginning to find little satisfaction in short-term affairs, which were pleasurable enough sexually but left her feeling empty.
‘Do as the editor says, not as the editor does,’ Natalie muttered to herself as she opened her front door. Glancing at the answerphone she was disappointed to see that no one had called while she was out. There were several people she half expected to hear from, including Philip, although she was beginning to suspect that she’d been politely ditched by him. But it was Jan she really wanted to ring her: Jan was her best friend and until a month ago they’d met up at least three times a week.
Because Jan too had a busy professional life and struggled to find a man that she considered good enough for herself, the two of them always had plenty to gossip about. Also, they shared the same sense of humour and the same love of Italian food and good wine. Natalie couldn’t understand why Jan had stopped phoning her. It wasn’t as though there’d been an argument, or even a disagreement. At their last meeting Jan had mentioned that she was going away the following weekend but had promised to call Natalie as soon as she’d got back. The call had never come.
Too tired to cook herself anything, Natalie took a bottle of wine from the fridge and poured herself a large glass. Then she chopped up some feta cheese in a bowl, threw in some black olives and some tomatoes and sat down in front of the television. After the meal her hand started to move towards the phone. Then she drew it back again. She didn’t know why, but she was reluctant to call Jan herself. There had to be a reason for her friend’s silence and she wasn’t sure that she wanted to know it, not if Jan was going to end their friendship.
It was only after two more glasses of wine that she finally found the courage to dial the number. The phone rang for a long time. She was about to hang up when Jan answered.
‘Hi!’ Her familiar voice was slightly breathless, as though she’d had to hurry to get to the phone.
‘Jan? It’s me, Nat.’
There was an awkward pause, a pause that Natalie rushed to fill. ‘Yes, you remember me, I’m the one whose shoulder you cry on when men disappoint you. ‘
‘God, look, I’m really sorry I haven’t rung you,’ babbled Jan. ‘The truth is I’ve been incredibly busy casting for a new historical drama. I haven’t had a moment to myself for the past few weeks. I was going to ring you tonight, but I seem to have gone down with some kind of virus.’
Natalie frowned to herself. She thought that she could hear people in the background, people laughing and chattering. But it was always possible it was the television that Jan had put on to cheer herself up. ‘How was your weekend away?’ she asked brightly.
‘What weekend away?’
‘You know, the one you took just after we last met. You told me you were going to a retreat or something like that. What was it like? Did it do you any good?’
‘It was all right,’ said Jan hesitantly.
‘What do you mean, “all right”? I got the impression it was going to be something special.’
‘Did you? I don’t know why. It was just a weekend in the country.’
Natalie knew that Jan wasn’t telling her the truth. ‘If you say so,’ she said stiffly, annoyed at being lied to. ‘Well, shall I come round and see you tomorrow? I’ll bring some chicken soup and grapes.’
‘No, you can’t come tomorrow,’ said Jan. Now she sounded panic-stricken.
‘Why not? You’re not infectious, are you?’
‘My mother’s coming over.’
‘From Paris? You really must be ill.’ Natalie could hear that she was getting an edge to her voice and she knew that Jan must be able to hear it too.
‘Look, I can’t talk now,’ said Jan, suddenly lowering her voice. ‘We’d better meet after work one night next week.’
‘How about Tuesday?’ suggested Natalie.
‘No, sorry I can’t do Tuesday, I’ve got some friends coming round.’ ‘Anyone I know?’
‘No, people in the same line of business as me. I tell you what, Thursday’s clear. I’ll see you at our usual Italian place at seven o’clock, okay?’
‘You’re sure you can spare the time?’ asked Natalie coolly. At that moment she heard a man’s voice calling Jan. It was clear that he was impatient. ‘It sounds as though the doctor’s arrived,’ Natalie said sharply. ‘I’ll see you on Thursday’ With that she slammed down the phone. At least she’d made contact with Jan again, and it didn’t sound as though she’d done anything to offend her. What hurt was the realisation that Jan suddenly appeared to be having a far busier social life than Natalie was. She’d have to ask Jan about that when they met.
Jan put her cordless phone down on the kitchen worktop. Natalie couldn’t have rung at a worse time. She felt terrible about the way the conversation had gone, but she hadn’t been able to say any more because Richard had been standing right behind her, listening to every word.
‘Who was that?’ he asked, running a finger down her spine.
Wearing only a black leather thong and high-heeled shoes, Jan felt incredibly vulnerable–which was how she was supposed to feel. It was also how she liked feeling, when she wasn’t at work. That was what they’d taught her at The Haven, and they’d taught her well. ‘No one you know,’ she said lightly. ‘Only a friend.’
‘And is your friend pretty?’ asked Richard, placing his hands on each side of her waist with his fingers splayed out over her belly.
‘Yes, but she wouldn’t interest you. She’s a high-powered businesswoman who likes to be in control of her men.’
‘Perhaps she should go to The Haven for a weekend,’ murmured Richard, his voice growing husky with desire. ‘We’re going upstairs now and while I’m making love to you, you’re going to describe her to me.’
‘I am not!’ retorted Jan.
She felt Richard’s left hand move to the nape of her neck and he gripped her tightly. ‘I hope you’re not going to slip back into your old ways, Jan,’ he whispered. ‘Don’t forget that the men are in charge here this weekend. As long as you do as we say, you receive as much pleasure as you can bear, remember?’
Her whole body tightened with desire. ‘Of course I remember,’ she whispered. Then she walked up the stairs in front of him, past other guests–some of whom reached out to caress her as she and Richard made their way to her bedroom. Once there she knew that soon, desperate to feel the delicious hot liquid pleasure rush through her, she would be doing as he’d said. She knew it was a betrayal of Natalie but, shamingly, the dark perversity of what she was about to do only increased her excitement.
Natalie arrived at Mario’s before Jan. Watching her friend arrive she noticed that Jan was looking tense. When Natalie waved to her, Jan’s answering smile seemed strained. ‘Sorry I’m late,’ she said breathlessly, sliding into the seat opposite Natalie. ‘The damned casting session ran overtime, as usual.’
‘I’ve only been here five minutes,’ said Natalie. ‘I’ve ordered a bottle of the house red for us but thought I’d wait for you before I ordered any food.’
‘Fine,’ said Jan vaguely. ‘I’ll have the spaghetti al pomodoro.’ She then began to flick through her pocket diary.
Natalie decided to have the fresh pasta filled with spinach and ricotta in a tomato and basil sauce, her favourite meal at Mario’s. Since Jan showed no inclination to eat she had to catch the waiter’s eye and order for them both.
‘Don’t you ever get tired of having the same food?’ asked Jan, putting her diary away.
Natalie shook her head. ‘No, I know what I like.’
‘I thought I did.’ Jan’s tone was strange.
‘What do you mean?’
‘Nothing. How’s the magazine, then?’
‘Taking up far too much of my life, as usual. Philip’s dumped me, in case you wanted to know but didn’t dare ask.’
Jan looked sympathetically at her. ‘Bad luck. Did he say why?’
‘Oh, the usual stuff about not wanting to get involved, feeling that I deserved someone better. It’s not what he meant, of course. It went wrong the last time we had sex. I said that I wanted to be on top because my orgasms are always better that way and…’ She stopped as the waiter arrived and they both had to stifle their giggles. ‘He must have missed us,’ laughed Natalie as they began to eat. ‘I’m sure no one else has such interesting conversations.’
‘Go on with what you were saying,’ commanded Jan.
‘Oh, that. Yes, well, he didn’t like me saying that I knew best. He pretended that it was all right, that he liked a woman who knew her own mind and understood her own body. But it put him right off.’
‘You mean although you had a better time, he didn’t?’
Natalie nodded. ‘Exactly. God, the times that’s happened to me. Still, it’s happened to you too, hasn’t it? That’s some comfort to me. I’m not alone in this.’
‘No,’ murmured Jan.
‘Is that all you’ve got to say? Haven’t you got any interesting gossip for me? How’s your sex life at the moment?’
‘It’s okay,’ said Jan, with a shrug.
‘What do you mean, “okay”? Are you seeing someone special?’
‘Are you seeing anyone at all?’
‘Yes, now and again.’
‘Is there some reason why you can’t tell me about him?’ asked Natalie. ‘Is he married or something?’
‘No, it’s just that it isn’t very interesting.’
Natalie couldn’t believe her ears. ‘Your sex life’s always interesting. What’s the matter? You’re keeping something back from me, I know you are. Is this why you haven’t rung me since your weekend away? Did you meet someone dishy there, someone you want to keep secret?’
‘Oh Nat,’ said Jan sadly. ‘I wish I could tell you about it, but I can’t.’ She lowered her voice. ‘You see, it isn’t allowed.’
‘Isn’t allowed?’ shouted Natalie.
‘Why do you keep whispering and why have I got to keep my voice down? I don’t understand what’s happened to you,’ said Natalie. ‘You’ve changed completely since we last met. Have I offended you or something?’
‘No, you haven’t done anything,’ said Jan firmly. ‘Please, can we just change the subject?’
Natalie sighed. ‘If that’s what you want. But the evening won’t be as much fun as usual. You’d better tell me about this place where you went for your weekend. You’re looking really well, so it must have done you good. Perhaps I should go there. Where is it?’
‘It’s, uhm… sort of in the country.’
‘That’s a great help. I should be able to find it easily from that.’
‘I can’t tell you where it is,’ said Jan, the exasperation clear in her voice.
Never before had Natalie felt uncomfortable when she was with Jan. They’d always been like sisters, able to talk about anything and everything. Obviously, for reasons known only to Jan, that was no longer the case. Suddenly Natalie just wanted the meal to be over and to escape back to her flat. She felt incredibly hurt. ‘I think you’d better choose what we’re going to talk about,’ she snapped. ‘Nothing that I pick seems to be right.’
‘Nat, I am sorry,’ responded Jan, leaning over the table towards her friend. ‘I’d like to tell you, truly I would, but I’m not supposed to.’
‘Then don’t. Idon’t think I want a pudding. Let’s just have coffee and then split, shall we?’
‘Oh, blow them,’ said Jan. ‘Listen, Nat.’ She dropped her voice. ‘I will tell you about my weekend away but you must never talk about it to anyone else. If you do, you’re going to ruin everything for me. So will you promise me that before I start?’
Now Natalie was intrigued. ‘Of course. You know me, I’m good at keeping secrets.’
‘Yes, well you’d better be because I’m risking everything in telling you this. The place I went to was called The Haven. It’s in Sussex. A girl at work told me about it. You see, they don’t advertise. People have to hear of the place by word of mouth, and their names must be put forward by someone who’s already been before they can actually go there to stay.’
‘But why?’ asked Natalie in astonishment. ‘Do you have to be incredibly fit or something?’
‘Hardly, or I wouldn’t have got in. No, it’s really a weekend seminar.’
‘A business seminar? I don’t want a weekend away working. I want a break.’
‘It’s a seminar in sex.’
Natalie couldn’t believe her ears. ‘What on earth do you mean?’
‘Exactly what I say. People go there to learn how to fulfil their sexual potential, but it’s a very special kind of potential. You see, it’s for women like you and me, or for men who spend all their time controlling people at work. They teach you how to hand control over to your partner in order to gain your pleasure. I heard one of the tutors refer to it as “the haven of obedience”, which sums it up.’
‘I can’t believe I’m hearing this right,’ said an astonished Natalie. ‘You’re not telling me—’
‘For heaven’s sake keep your voice down.’ Jan looked nervously around her.
‘Sorry. You’re not telling me that you became a submissive, are you?’
‘Yes,’ confessed Jan. ‘It was incredibly difficult at first. To be honest, I didn’t think that I was going to make it through the first day and night but I was determined to try. Let’s face it, my sex life’s hardly been that wonderful, running it the way I wanted to, so what did I have to lose? Anyway, once I started to give in and do what they wanted me to, it was so fantastic that I just wanted to learn more and more.’
‘What do they make you do?’
Jan shook her head. ‘Now that’s something I really can’t tell you.’
‘I can understand that they might want to keep the place a secret,’ said Natalie. ‘What I don’t understand is why I haven’t heard from you since you got back.’
‘Because I’m still seeing loads of the people who were at The Haven when I was. We have parties at each other’s houses, and meet up for dinners that always turn into something rather more exciting. The trouble is, we’re not allowed to invite people who’ve never been to The Haven, which is why I haven’t been able to include you. The awful thing is, Nat, I’ve got so caught up in it that I can hardly bear to take an evening off even to see you, my best friend.’
Natalie could see that simply thinking about it was exciting Jan. Her cheeks were flushed, her eyes bright and her hand, gripping the stem of her wine glass, wasn’t quite steady. Suddenly Natalie wanted to feel like that, to have something to be excited about–and, more to the point, to have truly satisfying sex. ‘Do you think I could go there?’ she asked.
Jan frowned. ‘I honestly don’t think you’d like it. I’ve rather simplified what goes on there. The place is very strictly run and if you don’t do as you’re told, well…’ Her voice trailed off.
‘Well, what?’ demanded Natalie.
‘You get punished,’ whispered Jan.
‘Yes. But even the punishments are designed to turn you on, only in a completely different way from anything you’ve ever experienced before. I really don’t think it’s for you, Nat.’
‘I wouldn’t have thought that it was for you. But you seem to have enjoyed it. Surely they’d take me if you put my name forward?’
‘I suppose so, but I don’t want to.’
Natalie felt as though her friend had slapped her. ‘I think you’re being incredibly selfish,’ she said finally. ‘You’ve been there and come back a totally different person. You admit that your sex life’s now fantastic and that you’re seeing people nearly every night of the week. Do you know what I do when I stop work each day? I go home, drink too much wine and go to bed with only the cat for company.’
‘But if I did put you forward and then you didn’t like it once you got there, it would reflect badly on me,’ explained Jan. ‘I don’t want that to happen. I don’t want to spoil what I’ve got, and they’ll start questioning my judgement if I send the wrong person along.’
‘I honestly can’t see what can be so bad about the place,’ said Natalie. ‘I’m not some naïve eighteen-year-old. I’m twenty-seven, and I’ve had a fair bit of experience. I doubt if anything they suggest is going to shock me.’
‘Oh Natalie, you have absolutely no idea of what I’m talking about, do you?’ said Jan. ‘You’re the same as I was. You’ve always liked being in control, both at work and in bed. The older the pair of us got, the more dominating we became. That’s why we frightened all the men off, only neither of us realised it. At least, I know I didn’t–not until I went to The Haven.’
‘I accept all that,’ replied Natalie. ‘If you’re truly my friend then prove it to me by putting my name forward. I promise I won’t let you down, no matter how much of a shock I get.’ She laughed.
Jan hesitated for a few more seconds and then shrugged. ‘On your own head be it, then. The only thing is, knowing you, and knowing what it’s like there, I want you to take the two-weekend option. I don’t think you’d be able to put up with the intensive course.’
‘Whatever you say,’ agreed Natalie hastily. Privately she thought Jan had gone mad. She couldn’t imagine any sexual situation where she wouldn’t be able to cope. ‘You’ll do it, then? You’ll put my name forward?’
‘I’ve said I will, haven’t I?’
For the first time in months Natalie felt excited about something other than her work. ‘How long will it take before I hear from them?’
‘I had to wait several weeks.’
Natalie groaned. ‘Oh, no. I was looking forward to going next weekend.’
‘They’re booked up a long way ahead. Now I have to go. I’ve got someone coming round for the night.’
Natalie didn’t mind any more, not now that she understood why Jan was so busy. Soon she would be as well. ‘That’s all right,’ she said with a smile. ‘Don’t forget to ring them up about me tomorrow, will you?’
‘No, I won’t,’ Jan assured her. As the pair of them stepped outside into the fresh air she glanced at Natalie. ‘I really hope I’m doing the right thing for you,’ she said slowly. ‘If you don’t like it, you won’t hold it against me, will you?’
‘I’m going to love it,’ said Natalie confidently. ‘I wanted my life to change, but I didn’t know how to do it. Now you’ve solved the problem for me.’
‘Give me a ring when you’ve finished the course,’ said Jan, hailing a taxi.
‘Aren’t we going to meet again before then?’ asked Natalie.
‘No,’ shouted Jan, climbing into the cab. ‘I haven’t got an evening free for the next two months.’
As the taxi sped away, Natalie shivered with a mixture of nerves and anticipation. She realised that Jan was right. She was more private than her friend, and the two-weekend option was probably the right one for her. She also realised that she’d now taken the first step on a journey that would lead her to discover new things about herself sexually. Unexpectedly, she was already aroused by the thought of learning to relinquish control and be dominated in bed. It was something that she would never have considered for a moment before hearing about The Haven from Jan and seeing what a difference it had made to her friend.
Six weeks later Natalie was driving down a small country lane in Sussex, rapidly approaching The Haven. Now that she was nearly there she felt quite nervous. If it hadn’t been for the fact that Jan had risked everything by putting her forward, she might have lost her nerve, turned round and returned to London. However, that wasn’t an option. She had to go through with this. She only hoped that once her two weekends were over she’d be as happy and fulfilled as Jan was.
The Haven was a big old country house set in six acres of grounds. As Natalie parked her car in the courtyard round the back of the ivy-covered building, she saw a few people strolling in the summer sunshine. Interestingly, they were all strolling alone: none of them seemed inclined to talk or mix. Pulling her suitcase and overnight bag out of the boot, she walked into the thickly carpeted reception area. Behind the desk a young auburn-haired girl was standing. She smiled at Natalie. ‘Your name?’ she asked.
The girl’s eyes flicked down a printed list in front of her. ‘Ah, yes.’ Again the practised smile. ‘You’re in room sixteen. I’ll show you the way.’
Natalie was surprised. She’d expected to be ushered into a large room and made to mix with a crowd of strangers immediately. Clearly she was quite wrong. At the moment this was no different from booking into an ordinary country hotel. ‘Did you find us all right?’ asked the girl, who was wearing a label that said her name was Sue.
‘Yes, thank you. The directions I was sent were very good.’
‘That’s all right then. Here, I expect you’d like to freshen up before the evening meal.’
Now Natalie was even more surprised. ‘Don’t I get to meet any of the other guests first?’ she asked.
‘You can always take a stroll in the grounds. Quite a few of them are out there,’ replied Sue. ‘Mind you, Mr Gill prefers it if first-time guests wait in their room until they’ve had a visit, either from him or his deputy, Simon Ellis.’
‘I see,’ said Natalie meekly. As soon as she was alone she started unpacking, then undressed, showered and put on a short-sleeved summer dress. She was just brushing her long blonde hair when the door to her room opened and a tall, dark man entered.
‘Hi!’ he said. But although his voice was friendly there was no smile on his face. ‘You’re Natalie Bowen, right?’
‘That’s right,’ said Natalie, with a smile. She held out her hand. ‘And you’re…?’
‘Simon Ellis, your personal instructor for the weekend. You are on the two-weekend course, aren’t you?’
‘That’s fine. I wanted to make sure I’d got my facts right before we began.’ Taking a notepad out of his jacket pocket he looked around for a pen with which to write.
‘Here,’ said Natalie. ‘Use mine. I was just using it to fill in what I wanted for breakfast on this menu card here.’
‘Thank you. Well, Natalie, when did you last have an orgasm?’
She’d been half turned away from him as he spoke, but as she realised what he’d asked her she spun round to look at him, her eyes wide with shock. ‘Excuse me?’
He frowned. ‘Surely you heard what I said?’
‘I thought you asked when did I last have an orgasm.’
‘That was what I said.’
‘I don’t see what business it is of yours.’
Simon looked thoughtfully at her. ‘Everything about your sexuality is my business. I’m here to help you change. I can hardly do that if I don’t know what you’re like at the moment.’
Natalie felt very uncomfortable. ‘I suppose not,’ she muttered.
‘You’re not expected to argue with me, you know. The moment you come through the doors of The Haven you are expected to be obedient to our wishes here. Failure to comply with this means that you have to leave. Surely you read our literature? Who was it who recommended you anyway?’ He started to look through some notes on a clipboard that he’d brought with him.
‘It’s all right,’ said Natalie hastily. ‘I just forgot.’
‘I see. Let’s hope we don’t have any further misunderstandings. Perhaps you’ll give me an answer now.’
Natalie was very embarrassed. ‘It must have been over two months ago,’ she admitted at last.
‘Really?’ Simon raised his eyebrows. ‘You mean you haven’t even masturbated in all that time?’
‘Why not?’ His voice was disbelieving.
‘Because I haven’t had time. I’m so tired when I get home from work that all I want to do is have a glass of wine and go to bed.’
‘If sex isn’t important to you why are you here?’ he asked.
Natalie struggled to explain. She was beginning to feel very uncomfortable as he fired intimate questions at her. ‘It is important to me, but I prefer my sex to be with a partner.’
‘You can hardly expect good sex with a partner if you don’t keep in practice. Right, take off your dress and panties, then sit in that chair over there.’
The palms of Natalie’s hands felt damp. Here she was, trapped in a house in the middle of the Sussex countryside with an unknown man ordering her to strip. She could understand why Jan had been hesitant about putting her name forward, because for Natalie the situation was almost unbearable. She swallowed hard. ‘Now?’
‘Well, I don’t intend to go away and come back again when you’re ready for me. Come along, Natalie, it’s a very simple order.’
Clumsily Natalie did as he’d instructed her, but it was only when she actually sat in the large armchair that she realised it wasn’t a normal chair. The seat, which was very deep, sloped sharply backwards and the back was higher than on a normal chair. When she sat down the chair tipped back a little, lifting her feet off the ground.
Excerpted from Haven of Obedience by Marina Anderson Copyright © 2012 by Marina Anderson. Excerpted by permission.
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