Kate groaned and rolled over onto her left, burying her face in the pillow separating her from the back of the couch.
“Asphyxiation won’t help your recovery, dear.”
Kate had to hand it to Magnus, her patience was astounding. Three and a half days holed up in her office with Kate and her cold, and she still sounded amused. Kate was sure she wouldn’t have fared nearly as well, had their roles been reversed. On the other hand, Magnus whining was such an improbable image; it would’ve been a brilliant distraction from the pile of paperwork towering on Helen’s desk. It was Kate’s firm belief that piles of any kind should be avoided if at all possible. And facing that one in Helen’s stead?
Then again, Magnus didn’t seem the type to need, or even want, distractions from her work; far too much dedication for one woman, in Kate’s opinion. Though at times that dedication could be very... endearing. En-tingling. En-rousing – no, wait, there already was a word for that. And a good one, too. Arooousing. Lots of moans in there. Just the way it made her feel, the way Helen made her feel. Dedicated Helen, yes, very arousing at times. And en-lusting. Kate grinned proudly.
Then she sobered and tried to reel her mind back in from its fever crazed musings; she couldn’t let it run away from her. Over to Helen, for example. Not that Helen had use for another mind. Hers was clever enough. But lying with Kate on the couch bemoaning her fate probably wasn’t all that much fun for an overactive mind. And Helen was hot!
Kate flipped back onto her right side. Unfortunately, this prompted a coughing fit; Kate tackled it head on. No pathetic sniffling from Kate Freelander; sickness should be dealt with gusto. She sneezed and groaned again; her head was pounding, and she had yet to figure out who had stuffed it with cotton. She suspected Henry, though Magnus insisted those were the usual cold symptoms.
Of course Helen would say that; she was sadistic like that.
Kate grabbed a handful of tissues from the table and noisily blew her nose, trying to order her thoughts. The random trains of thoughts that came with this cold-altered state were getting on her nerves.
She sniffed and watched, bleary-eyed, as the Big Guy walked into the room; a tea tray in one hand and a somewhat exuberantly tape-wrapped parcel in the other.
“For me?” Kate asked hopefully in that awful nasal way.
“Magnus,” he answered, gruff as always. He held the tray in front of her face until she took the mug. One sniff and she knew it was one of his herbal remedies; horrible stuff. She’d much prefer to take that slightly crazed looking parcel off his hands. She was just trying to be helpful like that. Quite inconspicuously, Kate placed the mug on the table as the Big Guy turned his back to her, placing Magnus’ preferred cup on the desk and handing the parcel to the boss.
“Thank you, old friend. Your help is highly appreciated.”
She threw a curious look at the return address and raised an eyebrow.
“It’s from Will.”
Kate pushed herself up into a sitting position.
“Why’d he send a package? It’s only one more week anyway.”
Attempting to stand up, Kate found herself pushed back down by a strong furry hand. A moment later, the warm mug was back in her hand, a blanket around her shoulders, and the Sasquatch had left the room with a warning growl. Kate looked after his retreating back and sighed. She couldn’t shake the feeling that her brain was missing a step or two here and there; mini-blackouts. All the cotton seemed to short-circuit her synapses or something.
She turned her head when she heard chuckling from behind her. Helen had already opened the mysterious parcel and was holding a sheet of paper.
‘More like missing a few minutes than seconds,’ Kate thought and wondered whether she should be worried.
Maybe she could distract herself from her thoughts; and from her aching limbs, while she was at it. Magnus would tell her when to worry; she always knew when it was time for worrying. And right now she looked amused. No worries, then.
“Will seems to have discovered a new interest.”
Kate decided the Big Guy wasn’t lingering behind the door, which related to ‘it’s safe to put the mug back down’. She placed it as far on the other side of the table as possible, least she inhaled too much of its bitter steam.
“In Tokyo?” she asked, heaving herself up from the sofa. She wanted to have a look, too.
Magnus’ stern look had her flop back down on the couch.
“You stay right there. And drink your tea.”
Kate threw a disgusted look at the faraway mug.
“Really, Kate.” Helen sighed. “It’s for your own good.”
“Doesn’t make it taste better,” Kate said, pouting.
“I’ll send you back to bed if you don’t cooperate.”
Kate groaned in protest and reached for the mug. Better not to risk it. Helen could be stern with stuff like that. She took a sip and grimaced. Helen’s face softened and she picked up the box, standing.
“Tokyo is the perfect place for this.”
Kate forced herself to take another sip. She’d get bonus points for trying, right?
“Manga? I’m not sure Henry’d appreciate the competition.”
Helen chuckled, sinking down onto the cushion next to Kate.
“No, not Manga. He seems to have developed an appreciation for the aesthetics of Japanese bondage.”
Kate gulped, and coughed, and barely managed to hand the mug to Helen before doubling over and coughing her lungs out. Well, at least one, maybe one and a half. It felt like two. She calmed down with Helen drawing soothing circles on her back.
“Small breaths,” Helen repeated her mantra of the last few days. “It’s okay, take small breaths, Kate.”
Her hand didn’t leave Kate until the coughing fit had passed, and it went to her forehead afterwards, judging her temperature, before tugging a few stray locks of ruffled hair behind her ear. Kate would’ve enjoyed the tender gesture even more, had Helen not pressed the mug back into her shaking fingers’ hold.
“Keep drinking. It will help with the coughing.”
Spent and somewhat out of breath, Kate took another sip and forced herself to swallow. It tasted horrible, yes, but she had to admit that Helen was right. It did soothe her throat and it eased her breathing. Just not enough to warrant another sip. She clutched the mug in her lap and smiled as Helen tugged the blanket tighter around her. Leaning against Helen, Kate peeked into the open box, spying carefully coiled piles of rope. Black, bordeaux, cream, and brown in colour; they actually looked inviting.
Helen smirked, a mischievous glint in her eyes that had Kate weary and tingly all at once; though she wasn’t quite sure where the tingly ended and the shaky began. She hated being sick!
“What do you say; shall we send Will a little thank you?”
She brushed her knuckles over Kate’s cheek as Kate looked back at her with tired eyes.
“I don’t think I’m up for much,” she said, leaning into the gesture, feeling bad for being the spoil sport when Helen was attempting to distract her.
Helen smiled and smoothed her fingertips over the lines on Kate’s forehead. At least there was no tsk-ing this time, meaning her temperature seemed to be back to normal.
“Don’t worry, darling. It doesn’t have to be much. But maybe it could take your mind off your aches and pains for a while.”
Kate wasn’t convinced but nodded nonetheless. The day had yet to come when she’d turn down an opportunity to get attention from either of her lovers. And frankly, a little diversion from her aching body and bored mind would be quite welcome.
“What do I have to do?”
“Nothing much,” Helen said, smiling. “Stay where you are and hold your arm out.”
She selected a brown rope and put the box aside. Uncoiling the rope and gauging its length she nodded, satisfied with what she had.
“Now just relax.”
She waited until Kate had sunk back into the cushions and looked at her expectantly. Doubling the rope, Helen turned to face her more fully and placed the noose above Kate’s wrist, wrapped the loose ends around it and pulled them through the loop. Kate watched closely as Helen methodically worked the rope around her arm, pulling an adjusting until the loops lay tidily next to each other, enclosing her wrist in a tight yet comfortable hold. The rope was similar in colour but different in hue to Kate’s skin; a quite harmonious combination.
Helen’s movements were efficient and calm, lulling Kate close to sleep. She smiled dreamily as Helen picked up a second rope, beginning the process anew with her second wrist.
Chocolate brown and coffee brown and vanilla cream - Will had compiled his rope selection with his usual eye for detail and Helen had chosen well, too.
‘Homey,’ Kate thought. ‘Warm and comfortable.’
She could perfectly imagine Helen wearing the bordeaux coloured ropes, too, the red in enticing harmony with her black hair and fair skin. Kate hummed contentedly. Holding out her wrist for Helen to work on, she flicked the first one slowly.
She nestled down in her blanket, warmth filling her as she watched her lover. Loop after loop Helen wrapped the rope around Kate’s wrist, widening and strengthening its hold until the wrist was covered snugly. Finishing the cuff, Helen tugged at it experimentally.
Her voice roused Kate from her contemplative daze.
“Looks good, Mag,” she mumbled, licking her dry lips. Helen’s eyes crinkled in amusement at the unusual moniker, as well as worry about Kate’s obviously less than stellar state of mind. She ran her hand over Kate’s hair and chuckled at her dreamy smile.
“It’s probably lukewarm by now, but you still have to drink it,” Helen destroyed her bliss with a nod toward the no longer steaming tea.
Mumbling in grumpy protest, Kate picked up the mug, only to have her hand caught in Helen’s.
“Hold that thought.”
Kate liked neither the happy tone of Helen’s voice nor the mischievous sparkle in her eyes. She decided to blame her cotton head once more for allowing Helen to take her free hand and move it to close around the mug as well, watching as Helen picked up the ropes’ loose ends and threaded them through the handle. A few quick knots and they were tied to the opposite wrist each.
Kate’s bleary eyed glare proved nowhere near as effective as she’d have wished and made Helen smile instead. It seemed she had to settle for suboptimal performances today.
“Do you enjoy torturing poor ill me?” she said, voice raspy, the sentence ending in a cough.
Helen shook her head in patient amusement.
She rose gracefully and picked up her mobile, shooting a quick picture of her sulking lover cradling the mug with her bound hands.
‘It’ll make Will smile, that’s for sure,’ Kate thought, imagining her red nose and glazed eyes.
‘Pesky blackouts,’ was the next thing Kate’s mind came up with when she felt Helen settle next to her again before she could so much as blink, or rather remember having blinked. Thigh pressed against thigh; shoulder against shoulder and Kate decided to just go with it when she felt a warm hand stroke her back in broad circles.
“Come on, Kate. Drink. You don’t want to spill it all over yourself during the next coughing fit.”
Helen’s voice was as soothing as her warm touch and Kate caved. The tea was almost cold, tasted horrible, and her movement was stilted because of the ropes. Yet the combination of it all brought the tingly feeling back with a vengeance, and the tea actually seemed easier to swallow than before.
‘Clever woman,’ Kate thought as she felt the knots being untied and the mug taken from her hands. Relieved, she allowed her head to be pushed down to lie on a warm lap. She even invested the energy to heave her feet up on the cushions, giving an appreciative sigh as the warm blanket was spread over her sleepy form. Her thoughts drifted off as her fingers closed around the rope on her wrist.
‘Best doc ever.’