Life Sucks. Back to the Loony Bin.

Well, readers, I’m not going to sugar-coat anything: I had a relapse in Thailand and couldn’t pull myself out of it. It was exactly how they told me a real relapse would be in rehab: you can control your drinking for a few weeks, and then it snowballs and everything goes to shit and you end up exactly where you bottomed out…or even lower.

I started sneaking booze out of the bar while he was at work. Part of me hates to  be drunk because I can’t do anything or think critically while I’m drunk.  At the same time, it kills all the feelings and seems to make life bearable until the shitstorm from the unavoidable consequences rains down. I’ve struggled with this so many years now that I should have known what would happen.

Actually, I knew.  The sense of impending doom.

I tried to quit drinking at least four hours before he came home, so I was always sober around him, but all of my physical symptoms came back almost immediately.  Hand tremors, nausea, insomnia.  Difficulty swallowing at the dinner table.

That’s why I haven’t been blogging.  I can’t write when I drink. I’ve been able to work and fly back and forth, but containing it so that I can have a degree of professionalism at work takes all my strength. I can’t even read, which is, like, my only solace in life besides my parrot.  All I can do it tweet stupid shit and schedule everything so that I’m not drunk around other people but also don’t go into withdrawal.  What a life.

The Collector noticed and I didn’t (couldn’t) deny it. I’m going back to rehab. Probably for 30 days.  Maybe longer.

I’m so tired of struggling with this. Rationally, I know that drinking distorts my thought process and makes me behave erratically. But I still do it, and when I’m in it, I can’t get out, especially when NOT doing it makes me violently ill.

On that note, it about 12 hours I expect to be ralphing foam (because there’s nothing in my GI tract) into a trash bin while a staff tech comes in to check my vitals.

Don’t let this happen to you, kids.  Don’t drink.  Don’t pick up.  I’m so ashamed of myself.

Abe is safe with an Avian vet boarder.  I made sure he will be okay.

 

Puberty and Bra Shopping (shoot me now)

Content Warning: I know this is an extremely personal post and it deals with puberty and women’s menstruation, and if that offends you, don’t read it.  I had to write about it to purge the pain.

*                    *                               *                 *

One thing I will never understand about my mother is how angry she became when I entered puberty.

If I ever have a daughter, I will take her out to her favorite restaurant and buy her a brand-new outfit when she gets her period, and we’ll go bra-shopping together.  She’ll get ones for children and I’ll buy one for adult ladies, but she can see me in them, and know, from seeing me, that this is how adult women look, and how she will eventually look.  I will tell her how beautiful she is.

My mother was tight-lipped and furious when I started growing breasts, and I don’t know why.  Even my father, who was, by far, the worst parent, just accepted it and said “We can’t have naps together anymore. It is not appropriate.” Okay, I was sad, but I knew, on some level, that what he was saying was right.

She took me to Target and I felt so ashamed, like there was something wrong with me. Then she asked the retail lady to put some training bras on me.  The retail lady was more gentle with me than my mother.  She put on some soft cotton white bras without underwire.

Then, when I got my period a year later, I had to confess it to my mother, because I was stealing her sanitary napkins. I had to! I was 14!  I couldn’t buy my own! I didn’t get an allowance, I didn’t get anything!

She said exactly two things:

“I hope you haven’t been flushing them down the toilet.”

also

“This means you can get pregnant now.  I want you to know that I am not interested in raising another baby.”

I didn’t have a boyfriend! I never even kissed a boy! At that age, I was not even interested in boys!  I developed late! I was not out being boy-crazy and giving my parents problems about it!

Even my dad, Franz Adler, said, “Well, I bet those cramps suck. I know it hurts, Liebchen.  Let me go buy some Midol.  This is just a fact of life.”

It really says something when your sociopath gambling addict of a father goes to bat for you before your own mother, especially when this is a woman’s issue that should be taken care of by women in the family.

 

 

Punching the Collector in His Eye (Part II)

So I fell on the ground and screamed (because I was scared): “You can’t hurt me!  This is not okay!  This is not playtime!  If you touch me, it’s assault!  I’ll call the police! I’m covered in bruises! I’ll show them!

I realize this is hypocritical, given that I just punched the man in the eye (for the record, if he’d called the cops on me, I would have immediately admitted it and taken The Police Cruiser Ride of Shame to the 10th Precinct), but he wasn’t in danger of me fucking killing him.

I was afraid! He could do anything he wanted to me!  I’m naked on the floor!  Without my guns, how could I stop him?

We stared at each other, me on the floor with my arm in front of my face, and him panting.  His eye was tearing and red and his shirt tail had come out of his pants.

I saw the composure drop over his face then, like dropping the blinds.  I did not know whether this meant sanity had been restored, or things had just became even worse.

“The police.”

“Yes!”

He cleared his throat, nodded, and then started to tuck in his shirt.  When he spoke again he was out of breath but his voice was otherwise low and calm, like normal.

“Margo, look at me…and then look at yourself.  You know, Margo…you are a troubled young woman with a documented history of eating disorders and alcoholism.  You have been on medication. Sometimes, when young women are troubled, they do things to themselves.  They mutilate themselves.”

I lay there on the floor, my panic suddenly evaporated.  I could not believe what I was hearing.

He continued: “I’ve seen you do it myself.  I sent you to three therapists in the last year because I am concerned for you, Margo.  I did it because I care, and I am worried.  I sent you to rehab for the same reason.”

Shit is now occurring to me, readers, and it’s not pretty.

All I could do was whisper: “I’m not crazy.”

He shrugged.  “You’re a S&M prostitute.  I don’t hold this against you, of course, but many people might.  They might think you were crazy to do it.  And all I am is a gullible older man with a midlife crisis, who took this unstable, opportunistic girl in off the street into my beautiful home.  I’m a sucker.”

I just lay there, completely gobsmacked.  What blew my mind was that there was nothing factually inaccurate with anything he said (except about him being gullible, hardy har-har, like anyone is going to snooker the Collector…the idea of me taking advantage of him is preposterous.  Nobody takes advantage of his man).  He wasn’t lying.  It was just…the way he would twist it around to make it seem like I am a nutso basket case.  For what, out for what–to get his cash?  Even his own sons don’t worry about that, because, I’m telling you, there is no woman on earth seductive enough to persuade this guy into giving her any money he doesn’t want to!  And I don’t even do that anyway!  I’ve never done it, in my life!  I’ve always supported myself and paid my own bills!  And he knows it!  He knows what sort of person I am!

The dawning realization that this is how he would portray me to other people if we parted on bad terms…and that people would probably believe him!  I felt betrayed.  Like I was sold out, and it hadn’t even happened yet.

And then I thought: This conniving fuck has thought of everything.

He knocked me out.  Knocked…me…out.

I started sobbing, which is extremely rare for me.  I am not a crier.  I don’t even cry in therapy.  It felt like all the strength and fortitude ran out of me like water.

“You don’t care about me!  You’re a liar!”

“I love you, Margo…but do not EVER threaten me.”

He let me cry for a few minutes and then came back with a blanket to cover my nakedness.  He was perfectly calm now.  Why wouldn’t he be?  I’d capitulated and he’d regained control of the situation.

He helped me up and gave me a hug and stroked my hair.  Then he led me to the sink in my bathroom and gently told me to wash my face while he picked out some clothes for me to wear.  While I got dressed, he took out his cell phone.

“I need to call the office.  I’m going to work from home today.  I think we should spend some time together.  We are going to have a good day.”

A good day.  Whatever the hell that could mean in this situation.

“Don’t hurt me,” I sniffled.

“I’m not going to hurt you, Margo.”

Too late for that,  I thought

He called his office.  Then he said that he absolutely had to get some writing done because he was working under a deadline, but it would only take a few hours and then we could spend the rest of the day doing something fun.

He left the room and came back with a bag.

“I bought you something while you were gone!”

It was a puzzle of The Unicorn in Captivity,  (South Netherlandish, ca. 1495–1505)..  He’d bought it for me at the gift shop at The Met.

Am I the only one who sees the irony in this?

“You can work on it while I write,” he said, peeling off the plastic shrink wrap.

We went to his office space and he retrieved this rolling body-pillow thing he lets me use when he wants me to be on the hardwood floor instead of using the furniture (unless I’m being disciplined or punished, of course–then I just get the cold, hard floor).

“Can I play with Abe while you write?”  Abe likes to ‘help me’ when I do anything craft-y like puzzles or wrapping gifts.

A shadow crossed his face: “I think we should focus on each other.”

Behold, the Collector: The Man Jealous of a Little Parrot. 

“He comforts me, though,” I said.  “If he poops on the floor, I’ll clean it up right away.”

“All right.  Go get him.”

I went to get Abe, but Abe did not want to come out of his cage.  Abe and seen (or at least heard) the fight and my crying, and he was upset and just wanted to hide in his little cloth hidy-hut.  It made me feel guilty.

I worked on the puzzle for a few hours while he worked at his desk.  He’d take 10-minute breaks to refresh himself and work on the puzzle with me.

“It’s lunchtime.  What would you like to eat?”

“I’m not hungry.”

“Just hot chocolate for you, then.”

He sounded cheerful and pert.  His eye had stopped watering.  It was red, though.  There was no swelling.

“I’m sorry I hit you in the eye,” I said, which might or might not be true…I honestly can’t say.

“It’s okay.  It looks very macho.  I can tell the people at work that I got into a bar fight!”

The joke was kinda funny.  The Collector in a bar fight!

(Actually, he’d probably do just fine.)

“I’ll finish up in an hour, and then we can go out!  We’ll have some fun.”

Oh God, I thought.

“Where are we going?” I asked.

TO BE CONTINUED

 

 

Backpage Shutdown

Howdy, 8 readers.  Thanks for your patience.  I spent two weeks in rehab, where I was analyzed by various shrinks who specialize in addiction medicine, and another week isolated with the Collector out in the boondocks in Colorado.  If he reads this, I am going to  be fucked, but I don’t think that he is because he would definitely tell me.

Before I get down to the personal stuff, I’d like to draw your attention to this: Backpage has delisted all of its adult services ads due to government pressure.  It just happened last night, while I was asleep!  Do you realize what a disaster this is for sex workers?  They even stopped ads for legal services, like BDSM/fetish and exotic dancing!  Apparently, we’re promoting sex slavery by advertising sales of smelly gym socks and spanking Stanford MBAs. What a crock!

I get 50% of my new clientele from Backpage, and I’m going back to work this week and I’m freaking out! I can only hope that most of my clients saved my email, phone number, and website address–but I know that since approximately 80% of them are MARRIED and their wives have no idea about their kinky pervy fetishes, they delete everything to keep themselves safe!

In my experience, almost nobody wants to session with exploited “trafficked” teenagers, either because they’re afraid of the legal ramifications or because they find the notion morally abhorrent.  I’ve met some truly awful “clients” in this Biz, but the majority don’t want to hurt anyone.  The idea that Backpage is a hotbed of predators seeking to exploit unwilling, pimped-out teens (the justification used for this political witch-hunt) is preposterous.

What a shitshow.

 

Happy Holidays

Hi, 8 readers.  I wish that this would take a long time to write, because I love to write, but I know it won’t.

I had a relapse and I got caught.  It was a small one (I’m not making excuses, because it was still indefensible, but it was only a few hours and I remained pretty coherent), but the Collector is shipping me off to a 14-day lockdown and then taking me away somewhere for the Holidays.

I’m sneaking this in from my own separate place so that I know it’s private.

It makes me angry because he gave me booze and pills in the past and he also has a big wine closet.  The wine closet doesn’t bother me much because it’s under the stairs and I never have to see it or think about it. The bar upstairs always stresses me out because it’s always there and I have to pass by it.

To his credit, he took all the liquor out of the bar and put it in a locked room so I don’t have to see it again unless he’s entertaining guests.  I hate to be a jerk, because my addiction is not his problem, but he should have done that all along.

I’m not going anywhere.  This blog is my connection with the outside world.  But I am going to be incommunicado for the next few weeks.

For anyone who hangs in there: thanks for your patience.

And happy holidays.

 

Pirates

Past the swimming pool, there is a grove of trees.  If you walk it, more trees.  I was confused at first because I thought, Well, Europeans (exception of Russians) already chopped down all their big trees, and don’t have any wildlife left but deer and squirrels. It wasn’t like I was going to get eaten by a bear or a cougar.  Euro forests are just big tree parks.

There is a stretch of beach where nobody can go because endangered birds nest there.  There are signs in English and his language.  Behind that, the trees.

The trees were mostly Birches. I thought, for some reason, they would be coniferous; evergreens.

I went into the trees.  I tried to be very careful because I have an awful sense of direction. It’s honestly the worst of anyone I’ve ever met; it would be comical if it wasn’t so bad.  I’ve gotten lost on fucking hiking trails.  The GPS is a balm to my soul, like a safety blanket, but I didn’t have it then.  It doesn’t work over there.

I tried to pay attention to where I was going so that I could get my way back to the beach.  Also, the ocean has a smell and makes noise.

THEN the kid came up, the eldest son.  I heard him come up because he was crunching stuff underneath his shoes.  Guys are mostly loud.

Was it a hundred yards…?  I was only a hundred yards into the trees.

I was startled.  There was no reason for him to be there.

He said that he wanted to show me where he and his brother played “Pirates.”

There were five or six boulders, each the size of a car or a bed.  It looked very incongruous (is that redundant?).  I wondered how they got out there, piled together in the middle of nowhere.  Then I remembered my undergrad geology class: they were probably moved by a glacier thousands of years ago (geology, should anyone ask you, is basically the history of rocks).

“Let’s see if I can fit now!” he said, and climbed up the boulders like a billy goat.

There was a slim crevice between the stones.  He had to take off his jacket, but he dropped through it.

He popped up and extended his hand: “Let me show you!  There’s a space under here.”

I turned around and headed back to the beach.  All the hair on my arms was standing up.

Deprived of the Warmth

I forgot the rule about clothes again.  I can’t explain it, really.  I know Freud says that there are no accidents, but, it’s just…wearing clothes is just default human behavior.  I never SLEEP in clothes, unless I’m menstruating or sharing a house with others (roommates or guests), but, usually, even if I’m being a total slob eating frozen yogurt out of the carton with Abe on my shoulder and reading the paper, I’m wearing a pair of underpants.

Last time, after the nightly sexual experience, he said: “I hate to deprive myself of your warmth and comfort, but if I didn’t enforce the rules, you wouldn’t respect me in the morning.”

Then he took out a rubber yoga mat and laid it by the bed.  He gave me a pillow and a blanket.  That’s where I slept.

He said, “Next time, you’ll sleep in the kitchen like Oliver Twist.  Do you want to be mine, or a wretched foundling like him?”

I forgot, again, and so I slept–or tried to sleep–in the kitchen, by the table.

When the sun started to come up, the rosy-fingered dawn, I got up.  I got up before my bird, and Abe’s an early riser (an early bird! Ha! Ha! lame joke).  I was going to feed him, but I left him alone to rest.  The travel is stressful to him.

(As an aside…I love Abe SO MUCH that I feel guilty about it.  This little bird is such an innocent and joyful creature.  I know I sound like a crazy parrot lady…but every day, he gives me love.  If I don’t double-lock his cage, he opens it, walks to me at night, and wakes me up grooming my hair and staring at me.)

I rinsed off in the shower and shaved my legs and armpits and slathered on the lotion.  Time to go back to entertaining.

He was up already, as usual.  Probably since 4:30 AM.  Lifting weights in the gym.  Almost all of the men I attract do this.  Superficially, they seem different…but they’re still the same, just reiterations.

Meet the New Wolf.  He’s like the last one.

Only more deadly.

 

In My Handbag

Work Cell Phone (“Mistress Batphone”): Pay-as-you-go burner Tracfone from Target

Private Cell Phone: Samsung Galaxy S6

Tin of Altoid Smalls, peppermint flavor

Hairbrush

Chapstick, cherry flavored

Mascara, Cover Girl Lash Blast Volume in brownish-black

Miniature travel toothbrush with case

Ballpoint pens, 4 (four), all from different hotels

Hotel room key-cards, 3 (three), all from different hotels

Naltrexone, 3 (three) pills, in a zipper compartment

Visine

Compact mirror purchased at Mauritshuis in The Hague , depicting Girl With a Pearl Earring (c.1665)

Tampons, 2 (two)

Crumpled Used Kleenex, 2 (two)

Lipsticks, 3 (three): nude (Victoria’s Secret), cool fuscia (Sephora), cool red (Wet n’ Wild)

B1 complex with Folic Acid vitamins, 4 (four), because my last alcoholic relapse wrecked my health and I need these vitamins to get it back.  Doctor’s orders.  I eat them like pez.  If you are an alcoholic, you really need to get on B1 with folic acid as soon as possible.

Condoms, 8 (eight): 2 Skyn Polyisoprene (non-latex), 2 good-ole-Trojan, 2 Skyn Polyisoprene “large,” 2 Kimono brand  All for clients on outcalls, alas

A shit-ton of heavy change that needs to go in the change jar and be taken to CoinStar.

My wallet, which is printed with  van Gogh’s Almond Blossom (c. 1890).  

ATM receipts, four (4)

Ticket to the Legion of Honor

Bandages to keep my still-healing burn wounds concealed

Kohl eyeliner, one (1), brown “espresso”

Broken Rules and Broken Doors

Some Tops are big on Rules, and some have almost none at all.  The Surgeon, for instance, only had a few for me: I wasn’t allowed to swear in his presence, I couldn’t wear pants (shorts were okay in the summertime sometimes, though–he loved my legs), and I had to ask his permission before I changed my appearance in any significant way, which meant no radical hairdo changes.  Oh, and he made me quit smoking almost immediately, which was actually one of the better things he ever did for me.

This one–Mr. Toast-for-Dinner, Esq.– was a big Rules guy, which didn’t bother me at all.  I like rules and thrive in structured environments, which is one reason I generally loved academia so much.  I’m also, believe it or not, generally a people-pleaser and don’t have any problems with authority I find uncorrupt and legitimate.

Well, one of his rules was that I wasn’t allowed to wear clothing in the house unless we had company over, or a repair person or the cleaning service was visiting.  The first thing I’d do when I got back to his place (if he was home or coming home) would be to go to my room and undress and either hang my clothes back up or put them in the hamper to be laundered.

One day, he called me ahead to let me know that a few of his colleagues were coming back with him to discuss some of the cases they were working on.  I put on a nice conservative dress, refreshed my makeup and hairdo, and, when everyone arrived, I tried to play charming and unobtrusive hostess: keep a low-wattage smile on my face, get everyone refreshments, and otherwise remain attentive but as unobtrusive as possible.

I was clearing the coffee tables and loading up the dishwasher when they left three hours later.  I was also, I must admit, playing on my phone.

“Margo,” he looked up from the papers he was going over with a neon yellow highlighter.

“Hmmm?”

“Your dress.”

I looked down at myself, confused, and asked him if there was something wrong with it.  It was navy blue with a high neck and the hem was an inch above my knee.  Attractive, but not sexy–the sort of thing you could wear in a somewhat formal office environment.

“Why are you still wearing it?”  He put his papers down and rose to his feet suddenly.

I looked at the clock.  Yeah, company had been gone for almost 40 minutes.

“Sorry.  I’ll go to my room and take it off,” I said.

He started to walk towards me pretty aggressively, and, instinctively, I started to back up.

“Why did you forget?”  He didn’t scream, but his voice sounded angry.

“I was distracted!  I just forgot!  I’ll go take it off right now!”

Then I turned my back on him and started running down the hallway, to my room.

It could have ended there…but something happened.  He overreacted.  All of a sudden, I heard him start running after me.

I guess I overreacted too, because I freaked out.  I mean, I’m not used to men chasing me down, at least in the literal sense.   I got scared.  I panicked.

I ran straight past my bedroom to the end of the hall, ran into the bedroom there, closed the door, and locked it behind me.

I’d picked the worst possible room in the house to run to (but of course, I wasn’t thinking).  Every other bedroom had a heavy steelwood door with a deadbolt lock.  As it turned out, I’d just locked myself inside the bedroom that was used for guests who visited with children: it had two twin beds for kids, a crib…and the door was a light, cheap piece of shit you could buy at Home Depot.  The lock was one of those twist ones in the doorknob.

He was at the door not two seconds behind me, and I saw him rattling the doorknob.

“Margo, unlock the door,” he said.

“No!  Why the hell are you chasing me?  I said I’d take the dress off!”

The doorknob rattled, more violently this time.

“Open the door!”

“No!  You’re scaring me!”

He hit it.  Hard.  I jumped.

“I won’t allow you to hide from me,” he said.

(In retrospect, that is what really set him off: the fact that I tried to lock him out.  If I hadn’t done that, he probably would have just ripped my clothes off and given me a spanking and forgotten about it once I was demonstrably contrite.)

“Go away!” I yelled, backing away from the door.

There was a long pause…

….and then a huge thud against the door.  HUGE.

Another pause.  Then, the thud.

I recognized what it was almost immediately: he was backing up, getting in a few running steps, and launching himself shoulder-first into the door.

He was banging the door down.

I almost had a complete panic attack, because I’ve had men bang down doors to get to me twice in my life, and both times resulted in hideous experiences once they got in.

He hit it again.  And again.  And again.

How am I going to handle this…?

When he hit it again, he broke the flimsy lock and the door burst open.  He stepped inside and stood there, looking at me.  His hair was disheveled and half of his shirt had come untucked.

“What the hell are you doing?”  I asked, crossing my arms over my chest.  I tried to sound as composed as possible, which was difficult with all the adrenaline pumping through me.

“Why did you lock the door?” he yelled.  It was–is–the only time I’d heard him scream.

“Because you’re acting like a crazy person!”

He stood there, blinking, like that hadn’t occurred to him.

I pointed at the broken door.  “You just broke down the door in your own home chasing after a terrified girl half your age!  You broke your own property!”

It was true: he’d completely lost control of the situation, which was what I was trying to impress on him, because he was a control-freak.

“You look ridiculous!”  I reiterated.

He looked at me, turned at the waist and looked back at the door, and then came back to me.

Then he turned around and walked out without a word.  He went to his bedroom and closed the door.

I ran back to my room (no long on the door), got my guns and my purse, bolted for another bedroom and locked myself inside.  I slept there overnight and didn’t leave until I heard him go to work in the morning.

We completely ignored each other for two days.  When I was in the house, I stayed in that bedroom with a deadbolt lock and didn’t come out.  It had a private bathroom and when he was at work I stocked up on snacks and water, so I didn’t have to leave when he was home.

After two days, he slipped a card underneath my door.  It was a polite request that I join him for dinner.  I sent him a text message saying that I would attend.

He cooked dinner and rapped gently on my door to let me know it was ready.  I’d deliberately worn the same dress I was wearing when he threw his temper tantrum.

“I apologize.  My behavior was very impulsive and out of character for me.  It won’t happen again.  I’m ashamed of myself,” he said at the table.

I don’t think that last part is true–I don’t think this man has any use for shame–but he kept his word about the rest of it: no doors have been broken down since.

Part II: Bath Time

I heard him running the bath in the second bathroom down the hall.  We’d spent a lot of time there, after dinner and before bed.   He liked to wash my hair and soap me down with a fluffy sponge and sometimes even shave my legs for me, which was kind of sexy because it was nerve-wracking (I was always worried he was going to nick me, though he seldom did).

And we would talk.

At first I thought it was just going to be an occasional romantic gesture, but when I saw that he was making a ritual out of it, I was slightly concerned.  The reasons for my concern are entirely my own baggage: bathtime with Dad was one of my (only) happy early-childhood memories of the man.  For some reason, he got a big kick out of it.  I had lots of bath toys and we always used Mr. Bubble:

mr-bubble

He’d sit on the toilet lid or get a chair and we’d make statues out of the bubbles and bubble hats  and throw foam Nerf balls back and forth and splash around, fun stuff like that.  Sadly–but necessarily–that had to end when I got older.  I don’t remember how old, but I was still pretty little.  Dad said that he was sorry, but I was getting too old and it wasn’t appropriate anymore and I would have to bathe myself from now on.  I was sad and disappointed, but, on some level, I understood what he was saying.

So, this nightly after-dinner bath ritual struck me, at first, as kinda paternalistic (honestly, though, I do have to wonder if that was his entire motivation, but I never had the balls to ask if he was trying to deliberately do the boogie-woogie all over my Daddy Issues), and I wasn’t sure if I was going to be comfortable with it.  Additionally, my bathtime is my alone-time, and when I’m with him, I didn’t get much privacy.

Well, it turned out to be fine.  It was easy for me to get over my minor hangup, and he really seemed to enjoy doing it, and we’d have fun. It made me feel cared about.  I even let him take some photos of me in the water, as long as I was in poses that concealed everything, which I would normally never let a man do (one of them turned out so well that he blew it up, had it professionally matted and framed, and hung it in the hallway close to his bedroom).

Plus, it would put me in a nice relaxed mood for when he beat the snot out of me during the sex later.

Tonight, bath time was no going to be so much fun.

I worried that he was up to something when he told me he’d draw the bath himself–I was the one who did that.  He had a huge copper tub and it took forever to fill.

Finally, I heard the water turn off.  He walked back into the dining room and told me it was almost ready, go wait in the bathroom.

I stood up stiffly from the table and walked nervously to the bathroom.

The tub was full of water, all right.  As usual.

But there was something different.  Something…off.

I looked in the mirror above the sinks.

There was no condensation on the glass.  No steam in the room.

The water was not hot.

He strode into the bathroom carrying an enormous bag of cubed party ice from the freezer.  In front of my unbelieving, horrified eyes, he tore open the bag and dumped the contents into the water.  Then he balled up the bag and put it into the waste container.

“Bath time!” he announced happily.

I’d been through icewater torture once before: Heinrich & Co. made me sit in a steel vat of it while they interrogated me the first day of Abduction Weekend.  Believe me, that shit’s no joke.  It was horrible, and I was not eager to re-create the experience, especially for no fucking reason (Abduction Weekend had a point).

“Nope,” I said.

“Get in.”

“I don’t want to.  This is cruel and unnecessary.”

“It’s my prerogative.”

“It’s not safe.”

He reached into his pocket and took out a mechanical egg timer he’d brought from the kitchen.  “You can do ten minutes.  That won’t hurt you.”

“Don’t make me do this,” I said.

“Margo,” he said, lowering his voice, “Do you really wish to turn this into a more serious confrontation?  We can put all of this behind us in ten minutes.”

What this boiled down to, for me, was: Do you want this punishment, or what’s behind door #3?  Because it’s not this, it’s going to be something else, sooner or later.  He wasn’t going to force me to get in the water.  He wasn’t going to pick me up and dump me in, though he was certainly strong enough to do that.  I could tell him to fuck off, get my purse, and go hole up in one of the spare bedrooms that had a deadbolt on the door.  He (probably) wouldn’t try to stop me.

But then…then I’d have to wait.  For the other shoe to drop.  And, almost certainly, unless he had a change of heart after sleeping on it…he’d be plotting.

Because it’s not over…until it’s over.

Be as stoical as possible, no matter how much it hurts.  Don’t break down, don’t beg, and don’t panic.  Don’t give him the satisfaction.

“This is a stupid thing to do for a man who needs my trust,” I said, and started to undress with my back to him.  “Later, you’ll feel like an idiot.”

I looked over my shoulder to check his reaction.  One thing that most of the men I get involved with have in common is that they think they are the pinnacles of human perfection in this world.  They are not used to being called idiots.  Rebukes to their judgement really throw them for a loop.

His mouth was open–I’d bet anything he was going to add more time to the timer as a penalty–but he seemed to think better of it and didn’t say anything.

I approached the tub and looked down at the water.  It was deep, with a layer of ice cubes bobbing merrily on the surface.

“Start the timer,” I said, and stepped into the bath.

It was freezing, but not so painful on my legs.  It was when I lowered myself into the water that the shock of the cold hit.  I yelped and hissed in breath.  Couldn’t be helped.

My skin broke out in gooseflesh all over and started to flush red almost immediately.

He pulled up a chair and sat, crossing his legs.  Front-row tickets to the show.

How can I describe it for you…?  Ten minutes in icewater feels like a very long time.  Long enough to suffer, but not long enough to go numb.  I started to shiver violently and when he handed me a bar of soap I had difficulty holding it; it kept squirting out of my shaking hand and I’d have to rummage around on the bottom of the tub to find it.  The ice cubes clinked against the copper walls.  My nose ran and my teeth chattered.

He watched me intensely but didn’t speak.  He didn’t need to.  I knew him well enough to know what he was experiencing: he was aroused by my distress and playing it cool for the time being because he needed to be in control of the immediate situation.  The sexual overtures would come later, when this was over.

He didn’t tell me to wash me hair, which was a small mercy.  Most of my hair got wet anyway, but I would not have wanted to drop my head into that water.

The bell on the egg timer chimed.

Very carefully–because I was shaking all over–I grabbed the edges of the tub for support, stood up, and stepped gingerly over the side.  I didn’t let go of the tub because I was having trouble straightening my legs and I was concerned about whether I’d fall down.

He watched me get out and then finally stood up and fetched a big fluffy towel from the rack.  He started to rub me dry with it.  I wanted to snatch the towel out of his hands and tell him that I’d do it myself, but, like I said, I was still unsteady and I also didn’t want him to hear my voice while I was still shivering.

“Brave girl,” he said.  His voice was gentle now.  “Can you walk?”

I shook my head.  Snot was still running out of my nose.  I wouldn’t look at him.

“Here,” he said, and wrapped the towel around my torso.  He bent, put his arm under my knees, and scooped me up.  “Let’s put you under the blankets.”

I hadn’t wanted to go to his bedroom, but I’d already capitulated on so much, and was in such a sorry state, that insisting on going to my own room seemed like a lost cause.

He carried me down the hallway and put me into “my” side of his bed, covering my damp, shivering body with the white down comforter.  When he covered me, I turned on my side away from him, looking the other way.

He left and came back with hot tea and a big bottle of water for me, laying them on the nightstand table.   Then he lowered the lights with dimmer switches and sat on the edge of the bed by my body and stroked the top of my head, which was peeking out from under the blanket.

“Where I was born, we heard stories about trolls who kept treasures of gold underneath the ground.  They guarded their treasure very jealously.  You are like a rare treasure, kept beneath the earth.  There are not very many like you.”

And, like myself, reader, you may make of that what you will.