Sharing Silver by Tabitha Black
Her trembling hand made the ice in her gin and tonic clink against the glass as Sylvia took such a large gulp she almost choked on it. She wasn’t normally a big drinker, but in light of her current situation…
For the umpteenth time, she stole a quick glance at the alarm clock beside the plain hotel bed, sighing as she realised that she still had more than twelve hours in which to contemplate?and try not to regret?what she was planning to do.
It had been a long flight from Brisbane, Australia, to Ohio, and she had hoped that jet lag would hit her fast, not giving her much of a chance to reflect. Unfortunately, she had slept so much on both planes, lulled into that odd sense of twilight induced by hours of perpetually dimmed lights, the hum of the engines, constantly running movies and a Valium or two, that she was now wide awake at nine o’clock in the evening.
The hotel was pleasant enough, and the flights and immigration had passed without incident, but now she was here. The point of no return was growing ever closer. Glancing at the sheaf of paperwork lying in her lap, Sylvia sighed and bit her lip. She had read every word a million times, and still she could hardly comprehend the enormity of what she had signed up for.
What would Stephen say if he could see me now? If he knew what I’m going to do, would he approve? More importantly, why do I still care whether he would approve or not? It has been more than six months…
With an exasperated sigh, she tossed the brochure in her lap aside and got up to pour herself another drink, exorbitant mini bar prices be damned. Then she curled up on the still neatly made bed, rummaged through her handbag for her address book, picked up the phone and began to dial.
Rosa answered on the third ring. “Hello?”
“Rosa, it’s me, Sylvia.”
“Hey, sweetie! You made it in one piece? How was the flight?”
“Fine, fine. Long, but that was to be expected. How are you?”
“I’m great. Can’t wait to see you tomorrow,” Rosa enthused.
“I can’t wait to see you either. It’s the other stuff I’m worried about. Remind me again why I agreed to do this, and how I let you talk me into it?”
Rosa chuckled, and Sylvia couldn’t help but smile at her friend’s infectious enthusiasm. “Well,” she began, “you’ve just gone through a messy divorce, right?”
“Right,” Sylvia confirmed.
“And you’re all heartbroken, your self-esteem is in the basement?in a nutshell, you deserve to treat yourself, right?”
“Still with you so far.”
“So what better way to treat yourself than to spend a couple of days with a gorgeous man who fancies you so much that he’s paying for you to spend time with him? And who will be fulfilling your every fantasy to boot?”
“Not to mention I’m paying for my trip with some of the money I got from the settlement, so essentially, my ex-husband is paying for my pleasure,” Sylvia added.
“Exactly. And you’ll get to spend some time with your bestest friend in the whole world, whom you almost never see because we live so far apart. So you tell me, sweet cheeks, why wouldn’t you agree to do it?”
“Do you want a list? I’ve spent the last forty hours or so compiling one in my head,” Sylvia groaned.
“What’s the worst thing that could happen?”
“Hmm, where do I start? I get purchased?I can’t believe I’m even saying that word?by a complete troll who revolts me. And I have to spend the entire two days?and nights?with him.”
“Highly unlikely. Sweetie, we’re talking about the Castle here. This is an amazing place and I have it on good authority that all the Dominants who are bidding are wonderful in their own special way. No trolls allowed.”
“Hum. I’m very picky when it comes to men,” Sylvia said.
“I know that. But do you trust me? Honey, I would never have suggested you take part in this auction unless I thought it would do you the world of good.” Rosa’s enthusiasm was hard to deny.
“And it’s been ages since I’ve played. Stephen tried, bless him, but he was never truly kinky… not compared to me, anyway. I’m out of practice. It’s been years since I was in a real D/s relationship.”
“Listen to me Sylvia?are you listening?”
“Mm-hmm.” Sylvia took another great gulp of gin and tonic, and swore as some of it spilled down her chin.
“Are you drinking?”
“Yes. I figured I might as well get a few in now, seeing as I’ll be limited to one per day once I get there. You know I don’t indulge often, but sheesh, a couple of glasses of red would do wonders to take the edge off. Why can’t the maximum limit be three? Huh?”
“You know why. Safety and consent are the number one priority where you’re going. Anyway, as I was saying. D/s, BDSM, ageplay, all the facets of this wonderful kinky world we inhabit… they’re all ingrained in us, right?”
“If you’re a lovely person, you’re always a lovely person, and whether or not you have the chance to prove it is irrelevant, correct?”
“You’re asking someone who’s just spent almost twenty-four hours on aeroplanes and in airports an awful lot of questions,” Sylvia grumbled. “Yes, I see where you’re going with this.”
“Exactly. You are a maso, honey, and you are naturally submissive. Being married to a vanilla guy for years on end didn’t change that. Your fantasies didn’t change, did they?”
“If anything, they got more extreme, seeing as I wasn’t getting any at home,” she confessed.
“Well there you go then. It’s just like riding a bike. You’ll see. And don’t forget, I’m doing it too,” Rosa added conspiratorially.
“So how come you’re not worried? What if someone you really dislike wins the auction when you’re up on the block?”
“Easy.” Rosa giggled. “There’s no-one at the Castle I dislike. No, seriously though,” she added, “this is for Don, so it’s a wonderful cause anyway. And I’m tired of being on this side of the Nursery. I want to indulge myself for once.”
“Fair enough. Promise you’ll meet me there?”
“Of course I will. I can’t wait to see you!”
Sylvia smiled. “Same here.”
“Oh, that reminds me, have you chosen a name for the duration of your stay here? You know we’re all meant to remain anonymous.”
“I have. It’s actually a nickname my first boyfriend gave me, due to the colour of my hair.”
“Let me guess. Silver?”
Sylvia chuckled. “Got it in one.”
“It suits you. Get used to using it. You don’t know who will be shouting your name this time tomorrow.”
“Gee, thanks, that’s very reassuring.” Sylvia rolled her eyes.
“Listen, I’ve got to go. Are you going to be okay getting here? I’m not going to have to drive out and kidnap you am I?”
“No,” Sylvia sighed. “I might take another half Valium and see whether I can get some sleep. And thanks Rosa. You’ve really helped reassure me.”
“What are friends for?”
Once she had said her goodbyes to Rosa, it had taken about half an hour for Sylvia’s fears to resurface. She paced the hotel room in her bare feet, wishing, not for the first time, that she still smoked. Every glance at the alarm clock confirmed that time was indeed moving?albeit agonisingly slowly.
This is all Stephen’s fault, she thought furiously. If he hadn’t dumped me, I’d be… I’d be… Where would she be? Still stuck in a house in the suburbs, in a marriage from which the passion had long since evaporated, with a man who had become addicted to his computer. How many hours, days, and weeks had he wasted staring at a screen, talking to women all over the world rather than with the living, breathing one who was in his house?
At first she’d been grateful for the extra time alone?time she was able to spend reading the erotic books she loved to devour late at night, where the men were strong, handsome and brooked no nonsense. But eventually the novelty had begun to wear off, and she wondered more and more why she, a young woman in her prime, was being forced to read about deliciously hot and painful encounters rather than experience them in the flesh, as it were. Any and all seduction attempts had been ignored; Stephen had waved her aside even on the occasion where she had gone to him naked, wearing nothing but his favourite perfume and a pair of high heels. She had stopped trying after that.
Sylvia cast a longing glance at the mini bar, wondering whether she ought to open another miniature bottle of something strong. Then her gaze fell on her Valium bottle. Her doctor had prescribed it to her for anxiety, but if she took more than one, it not only helped calm her racing mind, but made her fall asleep.
Sod it. She poured herself a glass of water, took two whole pills, lay down on the bed and waited for blissful oblivion. She may not be tired, but anything was better than spending the night pacing her hotel room, and she wasn’t entirely sure which train of thought was worse?going back over why and how her marriage had ended, or wondering what the coming days were going to bring…
* * * * *
Sunlight was streaming through the hotel room blinds when Sylvia opened her eyes, moaning with dismay when she realised that the moisture on her cheek was her own drool. Girls in films always sleep beautifully, she thought ruefully, you never see Kate Hudson waking up in a puddle of her own spit. I hope whoever buys me tonight doesn’t want me to sleep over. The sudden realisation of where she was made her sit bolt upright, almost afraid to look at the large red digits on that infernal clock on the night stand. When she did, she wished she hadn’t. She had exactly one hour to shower, dress, do her make-up, pack, check out of the hotel and find the bus depot.
So frantic was Sylvia to get ready in time to make the bus that she didn’t have a moment spare to worry about what would happen once she reached the infamous Castle resort. Nor had she had time for a coffee, so she was especially delighted when she not only arrived at the depot with ten minutes to spare, but noticed the Starbucks sign across the road. Without thinking twice, she dashed over to the caf?, emerging five minutes later armed with an extra-large cappuccino with one sugar.
The bus, when it arrived, looked perfectly normal. Like any old bus, going to any old destination. And the people boarding it looked perfectly normal as well. A few of them smiled kindly at Sylvia, and even though she was usually painfully shy, she found herself smiling back. Still, she was glad when she found a seat near the back of the bus and was able to cower against the window, still clutching her coffee, relieved beyond belief that no-one had actually tried to talk to her.
Rosa had told her that the ride from the Granger bus station to the Castle was a short one, but to Sylvia it felt entirely too short. Staring at the backs of the other passengers’ heads, she found herself wondering how many of them?if any?were going to be up on the auction block themselves that very night. Or, God forbid, would be bidding on her. That thought made her face hot, so she sank even further down in the seat, trying ineffectually to concentrate on the beautiful landscape.
Please, please, she prayed silently, let Rosa be there to meet me. Let me get through the next few days in one piece and I promise I’ll never, ever do anything this foolish again.
Even though her friend had told her all about the Castle, Sylvia couldn’t help but be awed by the enormous medieval structure as the bus trundled up and came to a halt at the front gate. Her nerves were temporarily forgotten as she gazed and gazed at the stone edifice, trying to picture what Rosie had told her?that the entire fifteenth century building had been disassembled stone by stone in Scotland, then shipped to America and reassembled in the lush green Ohio countryside. She simply couldn’t imagine the scale of such a project, and her awe increased with every step she took, following the others, first over the drawbridge?the moat was filled with expensive Koi, she noticed?and then under the huge wrought iron portcullis. It was like being transported back in time. Then again, she supposed, that was the point.
Clutching her empty coffee cup in one hand and her handbag in the other, she saw that all the other passengers were veering to some tables set up on the left of the portcullis and forming orderly queues, stacks of paperwork in their hands. This must be the admissions process, she guessed, remembering what she had read in the instructions she had received.
Sure enough, once it was her turn, she was asked for her medical records and waiver. Rummaging through her bag, she found the appropriate forms and put them on the table, receiving a new envelope full of paperwork in return.
“Thank you,” the assistant said, with a friendly smile. “Please take your welcome pack and make your way over to the dais?feel free to take a seat if there are any spare. We’re always frantically busy when it’s a special event like this one. You’ll need to go back over your intake form and sign and initial everything. Oh, and before I forget, are you taking part in tonight’s auction?”
Sylvia nodded, too overwhelmed to speak.
“Then you’ll be needing this.” An additional cream envelope was handed to her. “Feel free to put it on as soon as you get changed; this will help everyone who is bidding to identify that you’re up for sale. Have a wonderful time. Next!”
You are twenty-eight years old, Sylvia told herself furiously. You are not some tongue-tied teenage virgin who’s never gone to the dance. This is supposed to be your treat to yourself to celebrate getting out of a stale marriage, so stop blushing and stammering and bloody well enjoy yourself!
She lifted her chin, squared her shoulders, and made her way over to the small stage near the front steps, where a crowd of people had already gathered. The coffee cup was still in her left hand, and she looked around for a dustbin, but couldn’t see one. Hoping there’d be one in her room, she slid it into her handbag for the time being, moved to stand behind the chairs and waited for whatever was about to happen, her eyes still scanning the crowd for a sign of her friend.
Once everyone had been given their welcome packs and made their way over to the stage, a woman appeared and gave a brief lecture on the rules and regulations of the Castle, reiterating the universal safeword, ‘onion’, and reminding everyone that under no circumstances were gags to be used in any play session, unless a special permit had been applied for and granted. So everyone will hear me scream, Sylvia thought wryly. On the other hand, she wasn’t a huge fan of gags anyway. Being forced to pull a face like the colourful Koi in the moat whilst drooling all over her own chest was not the sort of humiliation she enjoyed.
“There you are!”
“Oh Rosa, thank God!” Sylvia flung herself at her friend, hugging her for a long time. “Let me look at you! Gosh, you’re as beautiful as ever!”
“As are you.” Rosa grinned mischievously. “Silver.”
“Oh crap, yes, I almost forgot.”
“I’m sticking close to my real name for this. I’ll be Rosie.”
“How adorable!” Sylvia exclaimed. “It suits you.”
“Did they give you everything? Did you get your welcome pack?”
“Right here, I guess.” Sylvia gestured to the large manila envelope sticking out of her bag.
“And your ribbon? Isn’t it a gorgeous idea? For the subbies who are being auctioned to wear black velvet ribbons so everyone knows they’re up for sale ahead of time?”
“I… um… I’m not sure. It might be in this one.” Sylvia fumbled for the smaller envelope and opened it. “Yes, here it is.”
“Excellent. Have you decided what you’re going to wear? I’m going all out. Well, at least that’s the plan, but I really haven’t decided yet. Do you want me to give you a tour?” Rosie’s excitement was infectious.
“Slow down, I’ve only had one coffee, and I don’t think it’s even noon yet,” Sylvia said, half-laughing in protest. “You know I can’t function until I’ve had at least three cups and it’s mid-afternoon, at least. Which reminds me, is there a dustbin around here anywhere?”
“A dustbin?” Rosie’s dark blonde eyebrows drew together in confusion.
“Ugh, are we starting this already? A trash can! I mean, really, we do speak the same language. Apparently.”
Rosie giggled. “Sure, there are several inside. I’ll show you once we get there. But first, have you got your bracelet? It should be in your welcome pack. Put it on now and do not take it off. Not even in the shower. Remember?”
Sylvia frowned as she drew the black bracelet out of the larger envelope. “Black. How boring. Why don’t I have a pretty pink one, like you?”
“Because you’re not in the ageplay program. But really, the dungeon? Don’t you have any other fantasies?”
“Well, yeah, but I figured that would pretty much cover most of them. Otherwise I’d hardly be able to lift my arm for the riot of rainbow colours all the way up to my elbow.” Sylvia winked.
“Can I take your comment to mean that you’re no longer scared, and are instead looking forward to this adventure, as you should be?”
“I’m sure the nerves will come rushing back. But in the meantime, look at this place! It’s just gorgeous! You’re so lucky to work here.”
“It’s definitely not the worst place in the world,” Rosie agreed, linking her arm through Sylvia’s. “And everyone’s incredibly friendly. You really won’t find a safer place to play, anywhere. Now tell me, what are you going to wear tonight?”
“I really don’t know. I brought a little black dress…” Sylvia looked around. “Oh, shit. I left my suitcase on the bus! Bugger. I got caught up with everyone else when they came off the bus and was just swept along by the crowd?”
“Don’t stress.” Rosie patted her arm soothingly. “The porters get your luggage from the bus and take it to your room for you. No doubt your suitcase is already waiting there, all ready for you to unpack.”
“Really. This place is a well-oiled machine. Master Marshall knows his stuff.”
“Wow.” Sylvia allowed her friend to lead her up the front steps and into the castle. It was even more enormous than it had appeared from the outside, and she soon realised that not a single detail had been forgotten. Grecian pillars and the marble floor gave the foyer an opulent, luxurious feel, and there was a hotel reception, gift shop, spa, candy shop, and even an art gallery. There were people everywhere, all wearing the most amazing clothes; from sleek and sexy black leather to neon-coloured Furry costumes, and everything in between. “This place is bloody huge, and there are so many people! I’ll never find my way around.”
“Trust me, you will. It’s always overwhelming when you first arrive, especially since the foyer is usually so busy,” Rosa said, reassuringly.
“So what do I do first? Is there a map in here?” Sylvia yanked the bigger envelope from her bag.
“I’ll take you to your room so you can make sure your suitcase has been brought in. Do you have the number of the suite you were assigned just now, and the key card for it?”
“I have no idea.” Sylvia pulled yet another form out of the large manila envelope and gave it to Rosa. “Can you make sense of that?”
“I certainly can. Let me lead the way. Although we should really get to Wardrobe first. If anyone catches you out of costume in here, you’ll find out just how out of practice your butt is, sooner rather than later.”
Sylvia grinned at her friend, knowing that they were thinking the same thing?that Rosa’s words were more tempting than terrifying.
The vivacious, petite blonde continued. “I’m up on the third floor where the employees have rooms. They are off limits to guests but I assure you, you’re going to love your guest suite. The showers are amazing.”
After a brief tour of the facilities on the way to Sylvia’s new, temporary residence, Rosa gave her a quick hug and promised to find her again at the Meet and Greet. Sylvia watched her friend skip away, smiling to herself as she slotted the card into the door lock. She was already feeling calmer for having seen Rosa.
* * * * *
The first thing Sylvia noticed when she entered her guest chamber was the enormous four poster bed, which dominated the room. Then the hooks and rings on it caught her eye, and her mouth went dry. A vivid image rose unbidden to her mind, of her, bound naked and helpless on the deep violet sheets, writhing in agony?or was it ecstasy?underneath a strong, gorgeous man. Swallowing hard, she turned her back on the bed and opened the door to the ensuite. An enormous shower, complete with spa tub, took up almost the entire space, leaving only enough room for the toilet, sink, cupboard and mirror.
She was about to go back into the bedroom when she caught sight of herself. Despite her surroundings, despite what she was about to do, she still looked the same; her hair pulled back in a ponytail, her oversized jumper hiding her curves, her cheeks still slightly flushed from the explicit image the bed had aroused in her. Any of her friends from the outside world would recognise her immediately. Rosa had.
Sylvia frowned at her reflection and tried to imagine how she would be perceived at the forthcoming auction. The people she had seen, as Rosa had led her to her room on the second floor, had been so… exotic. Bawdy, beautiful costumes, lots of skin, amazing bodies. She’d seen a couple of slave girls, a young woman in an incredibly sexy cat costume, and one or two ladies in full medieval gowns complete with corset. She herself hadn’t worn a corset in ages.
“You look dowdy,” she told herself sternly. For the first time since she’d found out about and signed up for it, she was struck with a different type of trepidation about the auction. What if no-one bid on her? She wasn’t sure which was worse; having to spend the entire time with a troll, or spending it alone because no-one there found her attractive enough to part with their cash, even if it was for a good cause.
Pulling the sweater back so it outlined her body, Sylvia ran a critical eye over what she saw. Her waist was slim enough, but her hips were entirely too wide and round, as were her thighs. She didn’t even want to think about her butt. Stephen hadn’t wanted her anymore. Why should anyone else?
Closing her eyes, she turned away from the mirror before she broke down. Get a grip on yourself?you’re overreacting. Of course you look dowdy right now; you got ready in a hurry this morning and besides, you spent the last two days in aeroplanes and airports. You’re probably jet lagged, and you’ve still only had one cup of coffee. Once you’ve gone to that Wardrobe place and been kitted out, no doubt you’ll look and feel much better, she scolded herself. Now put your big girl panties on and deal with it!
Taking a deep breath, she marched back to the bed without looking at it, and reached for the welcome pack which was still sticking out of her handbag. To her immense relief, she found a map, and saw that the Wardrobe was on the same floor as her room. With a quick glance around to ensure that her suitcase had indeed been delivered by a porter, and to her relief it had, she lifted her chin defiantly, picked up the key, and left the room. It was time for Sylvia to become Silver…