Death is a Service Rendered-5

“Miss Hart-Graham, that really is a private matter between you and the newspapers. Presumably you are taking legal advice.”

The lawyer shook her head sadly as if bereavement was imminent. Carrie shook her head as if a murder was being contemplated.

“Bloody firm won’t have it. They say it’s good for the business.” She laughed bitterly. “Even got some work for me with some ruddy American clothing firm who have suddenly…” she broke off to wiggle quotation marks with her fingers; “yeah, suddenly decided to make a range of clubwear called -‘Xpan’xx’.”

Ross concealed a smile by covering it with a wave of his hand to ask her to say more. Carrie settled back in the chair and calmed a little.

“Yeah, well I knew you would be useless. Anyway, that’s not what I’m here for. It’s my father: he wants me to tell you more about Alice.”

“What about her?”

“She wasn’t really part of the family you know. None of them were. Anyway, here it is.” They all listened.

“I didn’t even know I had an older cousin until I was about, well, maybe fifteen.”

Carrie had been rebelling ever since she discovered the effect her looks were having on the adults around her. It didn’t take her long to take advantage of this; especially as her father had made it plain she would not be going into the modelling work she knew she would be good at. Her mother was hardly around, favouring a string of young attractive male hangers-on to the company of her family. The inevitable result was that none of the people employed to look after Carrie in the long periods of her mother’s absence had any control. Eventually, after several unfortunate public incidents, too painful to remember, Carrie’s father had relented and brought in the most respectable firm his contacts could find to look after her career.

Those first few months were mainly spent in preparing her to be a professional model, keeping her schooling going and using carefully chosen placements. According to Carrie, she met her cousin at one of those work sessions. Carrie was one of a group of girls brought in for a basic photo shoot, when one of the assistant photographers approached her.

“You won’t know me, but I am your cousin, Alice. Your father is my uncle.” After smiling politely and not saying much in reply, Carrie accepted a business card and promised to talk later when they were both less busy. Instead, she avoided her for the rest of the day and spoke about Alice to her father in the evening. He confirmed that she probably was Cousin Alice, but as they hadn’t heard from the family in years, he didn’t know anything about her. She was intrigued and made contact. And so for a few months, they spoke on the phone and occasionally came across one another on-line, Alice explaining her family background, sometimes over coffee when they happened to be in the same part of town. Nothing momentous. Carrie looked on Alice as a burgeoning friend. And then the “suggestion” happened. Carrie made that quotation marks wiggle again.

Piers interrupted.

“I take it that she wanted to take some, hmm, unusual pictures. Who did she say they were for?”

Ross gave no sign he was annoyed at the interruption and simply waved her on with the story.

Carrie didn’t know who wanted the photographs. As far as she knew these were just shots Alice wanted to take to practice with. She had wanted to set up her own photography business ever since graduating and needed to make up a portfolio. It all started well enough. Alice explained that she was after atmosphere and they started to take some “mood” shots. You know the sort of thing, over the shoulder, jumping, lots of cloth backgrounds. She didn’t have her own studio. She was using, she said, the loft flat belonging to a friend. Lots of high ceilings you see.

Anyway, after about an hour of this, Alice said that she wanted to take some particular shots based on a storyline. She would be a naughty schoolgirl, she was to pretend she was being told off and punished. Piers interrupted again.

“There was no-one else in the room?”

She shook her head. No, it was all innocent fun with Cousin Alice so Carrie thought at the time.

“I mean, these photographs weren’t going to be seen by anyone, were they.” At this, she laughed ruefully.

“Sorry, can we get to the point please.”

Ross leaned forward and glanced at Piers, warning him off from any more questions.

“Carrie, you said you wanted to speak with me informally, and I have agreed to this so far. What I’m worried about is that you were being asked by your Cousin to take part in a sexually provocative photo-shoot whilst underage. So, what exactly is it that you wanted to say: that you were assaulted?”

“Shit Inspector, that’s not what I wanted…” She broke off and looked at her lawyer. The lawyer shook her head and spoke quietly.

“No-one is looking to press any charges or make any fuss about that, Inspector. Carrie’s father wants nothing to do with her daughter’s affairs in that respect. It’s what happened next that is the reason Carrie is here. Carrie?”

She picked up the cue.

“Well, anyway, can’t say I’m happy about the photographs ending up in the newspapers. No-one is saying how young I was and I’m not going to make an issue of it. As I said, my people like the publicity.”

“Anyway, the point is, when we finished, she asked if she could use them… she thought it had gone well and the good stuff could be saleable. I said no at the time.”

“And then?”

“Not long after that, I started to get involved with the big modelling agencies and, well you know it all took off for me after that.”

Ross nodded. He remembered something of the fuss that the “new British fashion talent” story had caused in the press at the time. Carrie had become famous very quickly.

“So, earlier this year, I mean it’s been years since we spoke, she calls me up and reminds me she still has the photographs. Asks if I would like to “invest” in a new venture. This time she said she had a contact who was going to help her. She didn’t tell me who as far as I remember, because I said no. I said that if this was blackmail, she didn’t know me as well as she thought. In fact I remember saying no a lot of times and we ended up having an argument about it. I never heard from her again.”

“So, what do you remember that’s so important?”

The lawyer passed over her note book and Carrie glanced at it, nodding.

“She said that her contact was the owner of a company that called itself, Subliminal Quest. They were a proper firm and would pay well for work they could use in their publications. Especially if they could use my name. I never heard of them. Haven’t seen the name since. But I’ll tell you this. The way she used the name, I would have said she wasn’t that happy to know the owner”

“What made you think that?”

“It was the way she said it. I don’t know, it was too long ago. All I know is that I didn’t like the way she talked about him.”

The lawyer interrupted by reaching into her briefcase and producing a single sheet of paper which this time was passed to Ross and explained:

“When Carrie told her father this, he did some investigations. There isn’t much to report but here it is.”

Ross took the paper and glanced at it. It was a simple statement from a well-known firm of investigators. He passed it to Piers who also glanced down the list. The investigators had summarised their work. Essentially what it said was that there was no company registered in the world under that name; though there was a website in that name that purported to be a supplier of BDSM paraphernalia. No publications were cited against the name. Although the website had the appearance of a retailer, in fact none of the links worked. The host of the website were happy to tell them that the appropriate fees were being paid to keep the website online, but that there had been no significant activity since the site was set up. And no, the host provider was not willing to say who their customer was.

“One for me to look into perhaps?” said Piers

“Yes please.”

Ross sat back looked thoughtful before he spoke again.

“You could have just sent me this. I guess you want something more?”

This time it was Carrie who took the initiative; touching her lawyers arm to prevent her from speaking.

“Yes there is something. I might not have been close to my Cousin, Inspector, but it doesn’t take a genius to work out that she got involved with some serious people. And despite everything, she was family and I want to help. But…” and this she glanced at her lawyer for re-assurance and once again she nodded.

“But, what I want is not to be involved. You have everything I know. My father and I would be grateful if we could be left out of this. Agreed?”

“I can’t agree to that so definitely. After all, there has been an attempted blackmail. Your silent lawyer friend here knows that well enough.” There was no reaction.

“What I can say is that if this lead helps, and there is no reason to involve you in the investigation, well, I am not going to call on you unnecessarily.”

Carrie didn’t look entirely happy, but nodded.

After a few moments of thanks, hand shaking and more thanks, as everyone rose to leave, Piers spoke.

“Just one last thing Carrie. Tell me, who enjoyed the photo-shoot the most. You or Alic?”

She paused and thought about the question before giving a careful answer.

“If you had asked me then, I would have said I did. But the more I remember that day… well… it was bloody obvious. She looked as randy as hell afterwards.”

Chapter 8

It didn’t take Piers long to trawl through his own contacts to establish that no-one had heard of “Subliminal Quest” and no-one knew of the website. The website itself was exactly as described in the investigator’s note. To Piers’ eyes, it looked a bit old fashioned in appearance; all dark moody backgrounds covered in dull lists and thumbnails of fairly standard equipment.

He looked through the listing of restraints: chains, cords and other devices, but nothing stood out. In fact, if he had to guess, he would have said these were standard stock photographs from other sites. At least one of the ranges of dildos on offer he knew was made by a well known and respectable firm. Plagiarised to make this site look authentic.

The part of the site that allowed you to buy, simply came up with an apologetic “under construction” page.

Ross had also had his technicians look at the site. Earlier in the day, Piers took a call:

“Piers, just thought you would like to know that our techies have analysed the pages for trapdoors or the like.”

“Trapdoors?”

“Parts of the site that look innocuous, say a space or an icon or part of a picture that takes hyperlinks to another secret site. Sometimes called “easter eggs”.

“And?”

“Nothing. It is as boring as it looks.”

“Changing the subject, what do you make of Carrie?”

“Feisty, but frightened I would say.”

“Me too, but I will tell you something, I think Alice was more frightened. She must have known Carrie, especially after all that time, wouldn’t have agreed. And what if she had gone to her father about the nature of the photo-shoot. She took a risk there.”

“So what are you saying?”

“Subliminal Quest is important. I don’t know why, but it is.”

“I’ll need more than that before I can get the service provider to cough up a name of the owner of the site.”

“I know, leave it with me.”

Piers had then spent the best part of the rest of the morning on this. By lunchtime, he had to stop. He had appointments.

*

When it came to coaching couples in the BDSM Lifestyle, he had no rival. Most people into fetishes came to it naturally through the club scene or finding one another on BDSM focussed social networks online. But some were rich enough to be able to afford Piers Fellowes.

He had cleared his diary for several months to work on Ross’s case. This was the last of the ones he couldn’t cancel. And it was the final appointment of a series that had taken Mrs Jeanette Farquarson and turned her into Lady Cropton… initially, it had to be said, for the delectation of her husband, a well know City hedge fund manager.

“Lady Cropton” arrived exactly on time and gave Piers a hug and an exclamation of pleasure.

“It’s really good to see you again Piers. And for the last time. Maybe not the last time as friends though?”

“Of course Jean… I mean, Lady Cropton!”

He smiled and watched as she carefully arranged her long coat over her leather clad legs and sat down, straight and relaxed as she had been taught. She didn’t even have to think about it anymore, she was a natural.

“No role playing today Piers. For our last time, I just wanted to chat with you for a bit. Sort out a few things maybe.”

“Well, yes, I see that your husband isn’t with you today. Is there something wrong.”

“Nothing wrong. Well see for yourself.”

She produced a phone from her small clutch bag, slid over the screen and passed it over. On the screen there was a streaming video of a naked man, crouched on a stone flag floor and obviously manacled hand and foot to the four legs of the large heavy oak kitchen table above him. Piers could hear it rattling.

“He had the day off and I told him he had to spend it at home. He was delighted.”

“Hmm. Not quite the subtle form of dominance play we have talked about before. Perhaps a little… well… obvious?”

“It was his choice.”

Piers grinned and they spent a pleasant hour signing off on the details of her new life.

*

His next appointment involved a lot less light-hearted conversation. This involved a serious breakdown of the rules he insisted were followed if his clients wished also to remain his friends. It involved a taxi journey to a terraced house in the suburbs of north London: neat brick houses that looked modest on the outside, but often with deceptively larger interiors and long expansive gardens. Privacy was kept with net curtains, panel fences and plenty of shrubbery at the back. Secrets were assumed to exist here amongst the middle income office workers these places tended to house.

Mistress RedRose Thorns lived here. By day she was a youth worker for a local government office, but even there, was thought of by her colleagues as a bit scary and assertive beyond her years. She was white, 24, kept her hair in red dyed dreadlocks and, despite her middle class Hampshire upbringing, spoke in an inner city patois that made her friends, even though they themselves had spoken like that since birth, warm to her. It made her the best youth worker Clemden Borough Council had ever employed. She was, when Piers came across her, also a natural if somewhat arrogant Domme.

But she wasn’t his client, it was her house slave.

“He’s in the garden, having a sulk. And tell him if he doesn’t come in and clean up, he’s out on his ear.”

Rosie “RedRose” Fairweather practically pushed Piers through the house to the back kitchen and as he went, he glanced into the rooms as he went by. Normally spotless as he remembered from previous visits, the hallway, the rooms and the kitchen were now in disarray. Pictures lay at skewed angles, some broken crockery crushed underfoot and a worrying number of knives from the cutlery drawer were scattered around the floor.

Rosie then grabbed him by the shoulder and hissed into his ear.

“And tell him that if he doesn’t get his fucking act together he can kiss goodbye to that fucking money he’s always on about.”

“Ok Mistress, leave it to me. Thanks anyway for giving me a call.”

Rosie gave him a disgusted look, gave the finger through the kitchen window to no-one in particular and marched off.

He walked outside through a narrow but beautifully designed and planted garden and past a trellised archway which in the spring would have been gorgeous in honeysuckle and other colourful climbers. At the end of the garden was a new wooden shed, small but perfectly formed and not long erected. Piers knocked on the door.

“Piss off!”

“I don’t remember that we agreed that was the language we used Davey.”

There was a rattle of a lock and the door opened.

“Oh, it’s you, sorry Mr Fellowes, I didn’t realise she’d called you. I’m really sorry. Not to her mind you.”

Davey’s face has moved from sullenness, to sheepishness and then to anger in the time it took him to speak.

“No problem, can I come in?”

“No, I’ll come out; two men in this shed will look like a bloody orgy to the neighbours.”

“And are the neighbour’s complaining?”

Davey shrugged, “Dunno, maybe.”

Piers looked back at the house, “Show me what you’ve done to the garden, and let’s talk about what happened.”

Davey was a rich man by accident. A builder by trade, he had been found and then backed by the astute business brain of his wife. Whilst this slight, wiry man didn’t look much of a businessman, he knew how buildings were put together and worked his way up to, with his wife, owning a prosperous firm. His workers respected Davey for his skills, they respected his wife for her fiery temper and astute nose for when she was being ripped off.

But she was also older than Davey and knew his limitations. When she was diagnosed with a brain tumour, she persuaded Davey to retire, she sold the business for an obscenely large number, set up trusts to look after the money on his behalf, paid off the black sheep of a son and told him never to darken their door again: with legal (and probably illegal) threats to ensure he complied.

And in one final act before she took herself off to a hospice and death, she contacted Piers and explained her husband’s “needs”.

Davey needed to be a slave. It wasn’t normally Piers’ field, but he had been persuaded that Davey needed his support now that he was about to be left on his own. Davey was an astute man in his own manner, he wasn’t “slow” in his thinking, but he was a natural slave. A slave is someone who agrees to put themselves totally in the hands of their Master or Mistress; and Davey had found his Mistress by being incredibly lucky. He had moved from the dominance of a mother and all the sexual repression that that had represented to the dominance of a wife who was one of the few natural and untrained Dommes Piers had ever come across. In public, Davey was a witty, unassuming and devoted husband. In private, Davey had worshipped at the feet (literally) of his wife, for thirty-five years.

Piers’ job, as made clear to him, was to make sure Davey was kept happy and supplied with appropriate women for as long as possible without compromising his health. She was realistic enough to know that she couldn’t stop him from being taken advantage off, but at least, by paying Piers a generous retainer from one of the trusts, she could at least hope he had a friend looking after Davey as best they could. She was, Piers remembered, the second most remarkable woman he had ever met.

It hadn’t been easy. Davey, for all his meekness, had to be kept busy. There was no possibility of finding him another wife. No-one, he made it clear, would be allowed to share his life like that again. He once confided to Piers, in a shocking moment of tenderness, of how he had brought her coffin home “for a couple of nights” just to make sure “she” was comfortable and her makeup properly applied before the undertakers had insisted on taking her away. And he certainly wouldn’t allow anyone else into “her” house.

There was an obvious solution. It was common practice for semi-professional Dommes to take on slaves for various duties. Often, it wasn’t sex that was offered in return, usually simply the pleasure the slave took from being ordered about, often doing menial domestic chores: occasionally naked.

Piers had spent a long term searching for the right person. Most relationships of this sort were more like contracts entered into via online dating agencies or through informal contacts in clubs. Their success rates were limited and most fell out with one another usually sooner rather than later. Davey tried but rejected several of Piers’ suggestions. He just couldn’t, despite all his skills, get “properly” into Davey’s head. Davey was, or rather as a result of his deceased wife’s influence, too unique. However, it was Davey, armed with a wide-eyed amazement and knowledge gained from Piers that there was a whole Lifestyle out there that made him feel he was not alone, who found Rosie.

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