A shy young woman stumbles into a magical store where she buys an anklet that increases her self-confidence but it comes with hidden side effects that soon become very physical…

Please see the wonderful art the commissioner commissioned here: https://www.furaffinity.net/view/41866778/ from the talented Gala!

An old commission I finally finished!

You can find my page at: https://www.patreon.com/markgraham

The pen rolled, pulled between Victoria’s lips when she pushed her bottom lip forward.  It spun again when she drew her lip back.  She breathed through her nose, blinked and twirled the pen forward, idly enjoying the repetitive action while her eyes scanned the monitor in front of her.  Sharp red strands from her messy bob haircut swayed lightly while she nodded back and forth.


She hummed softly, creating a song using pieces of music cobbled together by her subconscious mind in an endless melody that helped to fill the emptiness of the often quiet store.  The pen rolled.  Stopped.  Rolled.  Rolled rolled rolled stopped.


A shadow passed on the wall behind her, drawing her attention to the mirror resting at an angle to the side of the register on her left.  Her heart skipped a beat.  She opened her mouth to drop the pen, catching it in one fluid movement with her left hand.  


Victoria winced at herself in the mirror.  Blue ink smeared the very corner of her lips.  She sighed and touched the ink before running a knuckle along the freckles covering her cheeks and the bridge of her nose.  Her fingernail clicked against the mirror when she touched it to gently turn it away from her until a black door was reflected – the entrance to the back room where the owner of the little plant nursery, Elias, was waiting for- waiting for-


She wasn’t sure exactly what Elias did.


There was a specific class of customers who only spoke with Elias.  After two years of working at the small store, she found she could pick them out as soon as they walked in and it became a little game for her to while away the hours in between caring for the plants.  She couldn’t pinpoint exactly what it was but she’d never made a single mistake over the last month.  It wasn’t the way they held themselves; some were stiff-backed and assured while others slouched and slinked.  Still others assumed a casual countenance, wandering the store as if interested in the labeled herbs sitting within the hydroponic containers.


They all eventually made their way over to her in order to ask for variants of the same thing: ‘I need to make a bulk order’ or ‘I have a large amount of special items I need to purchase’ and any other request that fit the theme.  Those customers were always sent to the back room and, if they ever returned, she was to allow them back without question.


Despite being return customers, they never gave their names and Elias politely avoided the subject when she’d asked after a few of the more outlandish ones.  In return, she’d named them herself.


Ms. Crow Hat was her favorite.  She wore a black bonnet edged with lace and silk roses but the crowning achievement was a large crow’s head attached directly to the center of the brim.  Victoria prayed it was a well made toy but it seemed real enough that she worried it was taxidermy work.  The woman was middle-aged and always wore dresses in varying shades of dark.  Even though she never purchased anything in the front of the store, she would make a full inspection and point out any issues she noticed.  Yet she also praised Victoria if everything was in order.  And sometimes she would tilt her head just so as if giving the crow a view of something interesting.


Other regulars included Ms. Serene – sometimes also referred to as Mrs. Must Be On Some Amazing Shit due to how incredibly laid back she was.  Slow and smiling as if everything was new and interesting but she couldn’t be bothered to react to any of it.  Then there was Mr. Twitchy, who couldn’t stay still.


Beautiful Question Mark was an androgynous enigma – cordial but distant and ethereal.  Tall and lean.  Whenever Beautiful Question Mark passed through the store, Victoria was left in a dizzy haze for hours, distracted by every little thing around her.


Even more puzzling was Accountant Man.  He wore his white shirt with the long sleeves rolled up and his tie was perpetually loosened with the tip crumpled against his barely bulging beer belly.  The man appeared constantly tired with his thinning hair tousled while his thick glasses were canted slightly on his broad nose.  Still, he always said he hoped she was having a nice day before heading to the back room with his jacket clenched in his left hand.  When he’d arrived the first time, she’d been certain she was wrong about him being a ‘back-room-er’ until he stood before the desk to ask for help on some unnamed bulk goods.


For a while she was sure it was all drugs and even now she sometimes worried the police would storm the building.  Marijuana was legal but perhaps it was something else. Something more exotic.


In the end, it didn’t matter.  She was hired to sell herbs and plants and never saw anything out of order.  Elias never asked her to do anything but care for the plants and treat the customers with respect.  She’d say the same to any police.


When nothing else moved in the back of the room, Victoria turned the mirror back.  She sighed as she stared at herself.  An array of skylights filled the store with natural sunlight.  One of the windows sat just behind her.  She leaned back slightly until her face was highlighted.  The direct light caused her freckles to fade somewhat while her short hair cast jagged shadowy cliffs against the green apron she wore over her dress shirt.


“Disheveled,” she told her reflection while toying with the ends of her hair.


She’d tried different styles over the years before settling on the modified bob cut.  Shoulder-length hair left her feeling like she was wearing a perpetual shawl while longer hair was a time consuming hassle to care for.  Her mother called it ‘boyish’, but she thought it felt modern.  It was her one remaining middle finger to conformity after a brief fling with a goth lifestyle as a teenager.


And so, it was a surprise when she found herself becoming infatuated with her boss.  


Elias was everything she wasn’t; self assured, calm, well put together and incredibly decisive.  In their always brief interactions, he never misspoke or misrepresented himself.  She felt relaxed simply being in his presence.  Relaxed but also captivated.  He was beautiful, tall with broad shoulders and curly brown hair perfectly framing his face.  Clean shaven with high cheekbones and an expression constantly on the knife’s edge of tranquility and amused interest.


The only fault she could find is that he wore the same style of clothing every day – dark gray slacks with a matching vest over a crisp white dress shirt.  In the winter, he added a currant colored scarf and an overcoat but the base look was always the same.  And even then it only served to highlight his allure.  A not-so-small part of her interest in him was the constant wondering of what he was like beyond the persona he’d adapted for work.  However, the physical attraction and the feeling of being anchored in his presence were what really drove her to him.


“And yet, here I am,” she said with a sigh.


A week or more could go by without seeing anything more than a sliver of his arm when the back door was opened.  And whenever he did spend time with her, he always spoke courteously to her but distantly – a god relaying orders to his disciple.


The one friend she’d been able to hold onto after college was no help.  Her idea to ‘just talk to him, maybe bring him something he likes and ask to get lunch together to get to know him’ was utterly laughable.  Searching the Internet for tips was not much better as most of those boiled down to the same formula – be cheerful, get to know them, find common interests, develop rapport and slowly increase your relationship until you feel comfortable enough to ask them on a date.


“How can I ‘build rapport’ if I’m too terrified to even talk to him?” she groaned, laying her head on her folded arms atop at the counter.  


With a loud, overly dramatic groan, Victoria pushed herself up.  She brushed her fingers through the tips of her hair and pulled at her apron, settling it in place before starting a circuit around the store to inspect the plants.


Victoria hummed sotto voce when she stood before the cooler, nodding her head from side-to-side while eyeing every cut in turn before checking the humidity gauge.


Hydroponics was next – her favorite section.  The system took an entire wall with rows of herbs nestled carefully into their own segment of long rectangular blocks.  The faint buzz of the high-pressure sodium bulbs mingled with the hum of the multiple air pumps to create a soothing white noise that permeated the store to drown out the already faint sounds of traffic outside.  She tested the pH levels while checking and tweaking the system’s pressure and humidity until she was satisfied with their numbers.


A few plants needed a little extra water in the afternoon so she topped them off carefully before returning to her survey.


Pruning scissors were set beside a large pot containing the narrow, towering stems of wormwood where it lay in a shaft of natural light.  She breathed in deeply while leaning in to carefully push stalks aside.  As always, the scent from the plant reminded her of Thanksgiving dinners from her childhood, before her grandmother passed away.


“Arrrrr tea meeee sia aaaaab sin theee uuum,” Victoria sang, off key as she snipped the tip from one of the stems with a well-practiced, precise touch.  She enjoyed the way the syllables rolled off her tongue and often found herself repeating the little sing-song when alone with the plant.  “Arrrrtemisssssiaaaaa aaaabsinthiuuuuum.  Artemisia a-a-a-absinthium.”


“Nice work today,” a well-cultured voice said from behind Victoria.


“Oh, God Da- aaANG!  Dangit!” Victoria corrected, just before cursing.  She jumped, mid-snip and a large part of the plant fell away.  “Aww, no.  Poor little guy.  I’m so, so- oh.  Oh, um.”


Elias stood behind her with his unworn coat folded over his left hand.  She turned to see him standing passively behind her but his eyes followed the falling clipping before it was caught by nearby stalks.  


“Sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you,” he told her. Victoria faced him but stared at his chest while scratching the palm of her hand with the curved edges of the scissors.  When she realized what she was doing, she hid the scissors behind her back.  “It’s my fault.  I thought, perhaps, you heard me coming.”


“No, ah, sorry, I didn’t,” she said, chancing a quick peek up at his face.  There was no anger in his expression and no amusement at her fumbling.  Long strands of his hair hid the corner of his left eye.  For a single, heart-racing moment she felt an insane urge to tenderly reach up to caress his cheek and fix the wayward curls.  She could visualize it happening in her mind’s eye and the thrill of it made her swallow and look back down to his chest.  To the well-tailored shirt and tie and vest hiding his broad, no doubt muscular-  “Ha ha.  You- you got me good.”


“Not on purpose, I assure you,” he told her.  “I’ll take the cutting; I’m sure I can find a use for it somewhere.”


Victoria stared at his hand when he reached out.  She swallowed once more but then twitched when she realized he was waiting for her. Turning back to the plant, she reached for the piece she’d cut but realized too late that she used the hand that held the scissors.  With an awkward giggle that made her groan internally, she lay the scissors down and grabbed for the cutting but, instead, hit the stems supporting it, causing it to fall again.  Her stomach dropped as she imagined Elias standing behind her with his hand out.  Waiting.  Finally, she snatched the plant and turned.


He stood patiently with his wide hand held out steadily before him.  She couldn’t remember if she’d ever seen his hand up close before.  His nails were perfectly manicured and even the lines criss-crossing his palm were smooth and unbroken.  


“Oh, sorry!” Victoria said when she realized she was just standing in front of him.


She reached out to place the cutting in his hand.  Where her fingertips brushed his bare skin, tingling jolts shot up to her elbow before melting into pools of warmth that flowed up to her shoulders and down, raising the hairs along its path until it reached the tips of her toes.




“Oh!  I’m so- here, sorry!” she said, dropping the cutting and snatching her hand away to clench at her side.  She rubbed her thigh, just beneath her hip with her fist while desperately ignoring the signals racing through her body.


It was the first time in her life she felt her entire body yearn for someone.  She’d had her flings in college but they were quick, immature things compared to what she was experiencing now.  She wanted to collapse against him with his arms around her, supporting her.  Massaging her.  Fingers roaming her body while she whimpered for him to-


“Thank you,” he said, interrupting her reverie.  Her hand quested blindly for the edge of the table next to her until she felt the cold surface and then she gripped it tightly to hold herself up.  “Lock up when you’re done and I’ll see you tomorrow morning.”


Have lunch with me, she thought towards him.


“Mm-hmm,” she mumbled while nodding with a wide, closed-mouth smile.  


Victoria watched him gently thumb the leaves on the small plant before turning to leave.


I could buy, she continued to think as she stared at his straight back.  Or you could.  Or I could make something and bring it in.  I don’t know what you like but if we talked a while and you told me, I could make it.


“Oh,” Elias said, pausing with his hand on the doorknob.


“Yes!  Um, yes?” she asked, gripping the counter with all her strength until her forearm trembled.


Please ask me to have lunch with you, she pleaded mentally.  Or dinner.  I don’t care if it’s just an employee lunch.  Or not.  Just, give me something!


“I think I forgot to lock my door,” he told her.  “Could you take care of it for me?”


“Oh, yes, absolutely yes,” she replied, smiling even wider to hide her embarrassment.


“I’m sorry, are you okay?” he asked, suddenly concerned.


“Absolutely!” she repeated.


Goddammit, she cursed before channeling all of her pent up energy into a mental scream that didn’t touch the obviously fake grin affixed to her face.


Elias left and the door hissed quietly behind him.


“Goddammit,” Victoria said out loud this time, sinking to her knees to carefully rest her forehead against the counter next to the wormwood.


His touch still resonated throughout her body, lingering deep within as a slow, pulsing beat cast out as rippling waves that left her aching for his touch once more.  She stored the memory of all of it as well as she could knowing that she would revisit it once more in bed later that evening.


The rest of the closing routine was minimal – turning the sign over, locking the computer on the counter and shutting off the lights.


It was a rare occasion indeed that she was asked to deal with the back office aside from directing important clients where they needed to go.  And, now that she thought about it, she wondered why she never brought the customers to the door.  It suddenly struck her as odd that she simply let them go rather than walking with them in order to open the door and ensure they were allowed or to check if they had an appointment.  


Victoria took the keys from her pocket as she walked past her desk.  After a few steps, she slowed.


I’m sure it’s fine, she thought to herself, gripping the keys in her hand while reaching for her pocket.  The front door will be locked; nobody will go into the back.  I just- no.  No. Elias asked me to lock the back door.  I’ll do it.


She took two more steps, edging closer to the door and, yet again found herself coming to a stop.


He’s never let me back here, she considered, chewing against the side of her mouth.  Maybe he forgot and didn’t actually want me to do it?  If it just slipped his mind.  Argh.  No.  He was clear about it.  I’ll take care of it.  I will.


The door loomed before her as if she were looking through a fisheye lens or a fun house mirror.  She squeezed her eyes closed against a bout of nausea while raising her hand to the deadbolt.  Bile rose to burn the back of her throat but she worked through it to insert the key into the lock and turn until it gave a satisfying ‘click’ in response.  Cold sweat formed on her brow and beneath the strap of her bra.  She swallowed back the urge to throw up as she locked the doorknob as well.


The pressure throbbing behind her eyes lessened when she turned to walk back to the front of the store.  Every step eased the pain and queasiness until it vanished when she was close to her desk.  


“Good Lord, Victoria,” she said, sighing while rubbing at her temples.  She cleared her throat until the burning passed.  “Being infatuated is one thing but weird psychosomatic physical pain just because you get close to his office?  Get a grip on yourself, girl.”


With the back door locked, she finished a few small remaining tasks before stepping outside and locking the front door.  Foot traffic on the sidewalk in front of the door was slow.  The dinner crowds were home, still mulling over their potential choices before flooding the downtown restaurants.  


It was her favorite time of the day – work was just finished, leaving her to enjoy the rest of the afternoon.  She lived close enough to enjoy walking home outside under the sun without too many people around her.  Even now she kept her eyes on the ground with her shoulders hunched forward while watching her feet.  She stepped over cracks in the pavement, shorting her stride or lengthening it as necessary to entertain herself as she walked.


Two blocks away from the nursery where she worked, a stray beam of light struck her eye.  Victoria flinched.  She shaded her eyes and turned to find the source.


A small boutique was nestled snugly between a Green Life Smoothie and an upscale used clothing store called, appropriately, Rethreaded.


“Since when?” Victoria asked nobody in particular while staring at the boutique.


It was unsettling.  Her brain fought against it, as if trying to solve an optical illusion.  The boutique trembled, the walls bowing in for a fraction of a second while the edges wavered.  A tiny headache throbbed in the center of her brain while she squinted.  The building grew firm once more.


She’d walked to work nearly every weekday down this sidewalk and back home the same way.  The image of the two stores were clear in her mind and they were right next to each other.  She couldn’t even remember how many times she’d sat in the smoothie shop for lunch.


Victoria took a step towards the boutique to stare into the huge glass windows.  Two faceless mannequins stared at each other from opposite ends of the display case within.  Various styles of jewelry were arranged throughout – necklaces, bracelets, rings, hairpins, medallions, and so much more.


As she stared ahead, her eyes focused directly in front of her to see a simple gray bust with a glittering purple pendant perfectly centered on the chest.  It shined in a way that was difficult for her to describe; it wasn’t the simple violet coloring of a mass produced piece of plastic or faded amethyst gemstone.  Even from where she stood, she could see the deep, rich pigments.  Sunlight explored the depths of the pendant, revealing more complex shades until it appeared to fade away to ebony with hints of mauve stars twinkling in the void.


She touched the glass, enthralled by the sight of it as it pulled her in until she drew an involuntary breath.  Her body resisted the enchantment, forcing her eyes to drop.  The price tag, set on a rectangular card below the pendant, broke the rest of the spell.


“Forty- forty thousand dollars?!” Victoria gasped.  


Her eyes roamed the rest of the items on display but they were of similar prices.  She shook her head, amazed at the incredible display of wealth while knowing that if they were willing to have such expensive items shown in the window, the items inside must be even more extravagant.


A single employee, or perhaps the owner, wandered around the store – touching, adjusting, and eyeing the various pieces spread throughout the interior.  No customers browsed the boutique.


“I couldn’t afford a single thing in there,” she told her reflection.  


The employee turned from her inspection to notice Victoria, who looked away with her head down to avoid meeting the woman’s eyes.  She took a step back towards the sidewalk but hesitated.  The pendant was as beautiful as any art pieces she’d seen in the few museums she’d visited and she realized she could treat the rest as such.  As unobtainable works of art in a high class museum.


Victoria swung back, angling for the door to push it open and slip inside.


Even the air was a different quality inside.  It smelled richer while settling over her with a physical pressure that was comforting with its touch.  A gentle hush surrounded her, enhancing her sudden fantasy of being a bored debutante gracing society with her very appearance.  She adopted the role in the hope of quelling the butterflies fluttering throughout her belly.


As she feared, the prices within the store skyrocketed into unbelievable heights that left her wondering what the boutique was doing sandwiched between stores frequented by broke college students.


In the front corner of the boutique, a detached wooden arm rested lightly on a red silk pillow.  Victoria stared at the bracelet encircling the wrist.  The narrow band was rimmed by a silver metal that created visible hexagonal shimmering effects in the soft glow of the overhead lights.  An unbroken, polished emerald three inches in diameter lay between the metal.


“I- I- I need this,” she stuttered.  She whimpered when she tried to look away from the bracelet but it held her complete attention.  Her fingers reached out.  Already she could see it around her wrist.  Walking smugly in public while ensuring everyone would see it.  Her temples throbbed as phantom hands squeezed her brain, constricting her willpower.


The placard showed the price in the corner of her eyes.  Thirty-five thousand dollars was more than she could spend.  Much more than she had readily available.  But, already she began to think of ways she could make up the difference – selling plasma, selling her furniture and television and everything else in her apartment.  Selling her body.  Kneeling in dirty alleys to give to nameless men blowjobs or whatever else it would take to make enough.


“I- nrgh-” she groaned, slowly closing her fingers into a fist, inches away from the bracelet.  Physical pain shot throughout her arm.  


Ignoring the pain as much as possible, she turned while closing her eyes.


“Huh, that’s weird,” Victoria said while massaging the side of her neck.  The threads of the memory from the last few minutes unraveled into nothingness, leaving the bracelet forgotten.


She moved throughout the store, from one display case to the next while admiring the occasional well-dressed and well-appointed mannequin.  It hurt her to think that each of them had a better chance with Elias than she did, and they weren’t even real.


Standing in front of one faceless figure, Victoria frowned.  She leaned to the side to look for earrings and then down to her neck and over to her hands.  With a shrug, she started to turn away until she spied gold surrounding the mannequin’s ankle.


Victoria tucked her skirt beneath her thighs as she crouched to get a better view.  Unlike the other items, this one had a simple price tag attached directly to the anklet rather than a card set below.


“Just one thousand dollars,” she said wryly while reaching out to touch the little square paper.  “That’s basically nothing compared to the rest of the items.  You’re like the plastic trash of overly expensive trinkets.  Poor little thing.”


Three symbols were etched into the golden band, side-by-side.  They tickled her mind and she wondered, vaguely if they were Egyptian or Greek glyphs.  She’d have to ask when she brought it to the register-


Wait, I can’t afford this, she told herself.  She could, she knew.  Her account had the money for it even if she’d need to watch her budget for the next two months to make space for it.  No, seriously, I can’t afford it.


The vision of her unlatching it to carry it to the counter was clear in her mind.  Enough so that she found herself mimicking the movements in her mind, slipping fingers around to the back until they brushed the clasp.  She felt suddenly certain in her ability to cut out a few things from her groceries as well as shifting her monthly ‘fun’ fund into the purchase.  The decision was clear and simple in her mind despite how she would often argue with herself over such a large, frivolous purchase in the past.  It was her habit to go back and forth, potentially agonizing over the decision for a week or more until finally choosing.  And even then there would be restless nights where she wondered if she’d picked the right outcome.


Victoria unhooked the clasp while holding the anklet with her free hand.  It flexed at the back, opposite the glyphs but was otherwise one connected piece.


It was perfect for her.  There was no waffling over the decision.  As she held it in her hand, she knew she would buy it and she was immediately satisfied with the decision.  Even better, she’d wear it to work tomorrow.  With the metal touching her skin, she could easily see herself sporting the band at work, with a low-cut shirt and tight shorts that showed off her legs.  Or a low-cut blouse with trousers and heels that left her ankle bare to show off the jewelry, matching Elias’ suit with her own sexy spin that left him watching her close.  Dazzling him with how the gold complemented her freckles and paleness.


Without a single shred of doubt left, she stood with the anklet in her hand. She’d made up her mind without caring what remained in the unexplored sections of the boutique. 


Seeing her approach, the employee quickly finished dusting an amulet inside a display case.  She closed the glass panel, latching it with a key around her wrist before making her way to the counter to greet her customer.


I’d like to buy this, please, the words came to Victoria automatically – a memorized phrase she’d used for years.


“I’ll take this,” she said instead, placing the anklet onto the counter while maintaining eye contact with the employee.  Her fingers never left it.


“That’s certainly a good choice,” the clerk said while glancing down at the item on the counter.  “I’m sure whomever you give it to is in for an amazing experience.”


“It’s for me,” Victoria told her boldly.


The words, and the way they were spoken, drew the other woman’s attention.  She looked up at Victoria and the skin tightened around her eyes.


“For you, you say?” the woman asked.


“Yes,” Victoria said, annoyed at having to repeat herself.


“You know, I don’t think I’ve seen you around before,” the woman told her.  She touched her thumb to a ring on her index finger.


“No, I’m not surprised.  This is my first time here,” Victoria replied, surprised at the sudden change in the conversation.


The anklet was slipping away from her.  A new sense, tied to her increased confidence, let her feel it happening.  The other woman’s movements made it clear.  In the subtle changes of her facial expression and the tone in her words.  And the way she held herself suddenly.  It made no sense – she had the money to buy the anklet and she wanted it.  Why should she care?


“I’ve passed by a few times but never made the time to stop in,” Victoria lied. She was shocked at how easily the words rolled off her tongue, without stuttering or hesitation.  The tip of her finger touched the gold band where it lay on the counter.  Despite the boldness of her words, she felt her heart racing while her stomach turned sour from anxiety.  Yet her outward appearance never changed.  “And, really, this piece is perfect for me.  I’ve been ready for a change for quite some time.  Why wait?  Why hesitate?”


“Well, still-” the clerk said, rubbing the side of her ring.


“Frankly,” Victoria said, feeling nausea spreading throughout her body as she stood her ground.  “It’s none of your business if I want to buy this for someone else or myself.  Are you often in the habit of questioning your customers?  I’m quite busy, you know.”


Please, just let it go.  Please, Victoria prayed as her lips hardened into a thin line that telegraphed her displeasure.


“Ah, yes ma’am, you’re right, of course,” the other woman said while relaxing.  She opened her, removing her finger from the ring to place her palm flat against the counter while flashing a well practiced smile.  “And how will you be paying today?”


Oh, thank god.  Thank god, Victoria thought.  She smiled in return, bolstered by bluffing her way through the conversation.  It was the first time she’d tried it and it felt amazing to have stood her ground.


“Credit card,” Victoria told her while reaching into her purse to retrieve her card from the wallet inside.


“Ah.  Oh.  Okay,” the clerk said.


She knelt, rummaging on a shelf beneath the counter before pulling out a point of sale terminal.  The woman turned to blow on it and wipe the dust away before placing it beside her sleek register.  She fumbled with cables, muttering quietly until it was connected.  Once finished, she glared at it while tapping the side with her finger.  Finally, it beeped loudly.  She nodded and picked up the credit card Victoria had placed on the counter, swiping it four times with increasing agitation until it finally beeped.


“Sorry about that,” the clerk said.  She held the card out for Victoria who gave a ‘no problem’ while taking it.  “Oh, sorry, it’s printing a receipt.  It’s been so long.  I forgot they did that.  I’ll throw it away and handwrite a standard receipt for you.”


“No, it’s fine, I’ll take this one.  No need to do the extra work,” Victoria said.  She felt quite magnanimous after her earlier victory.


“You- are you sure?” the wariness she’d displayed earlier returned.


“Oh, yes, it’s just- it’s just so cheap that it really doesn’t matter,” Victoria lied again.  “Trust me, it’s not worth your time or energy.  I don’t expect any issues.  Just the printout is enough.”


“If that’s what you’d prefer,” the woman said after a moment or two of contemplation.  She tore the printed receipt before laying it to the side of the anklet.  “We appreciate your business and I hope you- that you enjoy- have a pleasant day!”


Victoria stared at the flustered woman, confused and concerned before realizing that it wasn’t her business and it did her no favors to linger after the interactions she had with the employee.


“Thanks!  You, too!” Victoria said, snatching the receipt and the gold band.  She walked a path straight to the exit with her eyes locked onto the door and her shoulders squared back behind her.  The very model of self-assuredness.


Once outside, Victoria exhaled.  She relaxed while placing the anklet into her purse with her hand against it.  It calmed her but also made her stand up straighter.  With her fingers lightly tracing the three symbols on the gold band, she continued her walk home.  It soon became uncomfortable to walk with her hand inside her purse so she pulled it free but took the anklet with her to hold clenched in her fist.  To keep it safe, she told herself, while caressing it with her thumb.


It took barely five minutes for her to realize something was wrong.  


A man, perhaps a year or two younger than her, watched her walk past.  She saw him turn his head to follow her with his eyes tracing a path from her face down to her chest and further to her hips and ass.  His gaze was palpable.  It buffeted her wherever he looked.  Silky tendrils stroked her body, gliding beneath her shirt to fondle her breasts and drag down her sides before slipping into her skirt to claw over her ass. And lower, between her thighs to-


She gasped, missing a step.  Half a block away he shook himself to look back at his phone.


The absence of his eyes upon her body left her temporarily emotional.  Victoria focused inward, trying to understand exactly what it was she felt.  The answer shocked her.  




She’d had her share of catcalls and men leering at her, but this was different.  His attention had been a physical force that excited her and, now, without it, she felt deserted.  Unwanted.


A middle-aged woman, sitting on a bench in front of a coffee shop, clenched her husband’s thigh when Victoria passed in front of her.  The woman jerked her head to get him to look and they both stared.


Their attention fed her.  Victoria smiled while slowing her pace. The excitement she’d felt earlier returned and amplified when a college student glanced up from his laptop to watch her pass.  As the others had, he ogled her without subtlety.  Victoria threw her head back and her smile widened.  She placed her right foot in front of her left and then the left in front of the right, sashaying with exaggerated motions.  The older woman’s hand slid higher on her husband’s thigh to the bulge of his hardening cock while she spread her legs ever so slightly apart.  


Victoria sighed.  Warmth spread throughout her body.  Her nerves hummed in a line from the hand holding the anklet, up to her shoulder and down to her chest before branching into a multi-tined lightning strike that made her shiver.  She reached up with her left hand to undo the top button on her shirt.  And then the second.  And the third.  The front of her shirt waved open to show the swell of her breasts over the top of her bra.


The couple’s attention wavered at a distance.  The seated woman found herself surprised to be stroking her husband’s cock through his slacks but she was horny and she turned, biting his ear and whispering about him taking her into the nearby bathroom to fuck her against the wall.


Two men replaced them with one whispering a loud ‘Damn’ while slapping his friend’s chest.  Victoria preened herself, dragging her fingers through her hair before bringing her hand down to her shirt, tugging briefly on her bra until a narrow crescent of her areola showed  in an extraordinary display of exhibitionism.  She smirked and tugged on the bottom of her shirt, pulling it tight against her while lowering her cleavage.


She felt drunk off of the exposure and the looks she gathered from it.  Her knuckles grew white as she clenched the anklet, pressing it against her side while basking in the attention.  In the past, she withdrew into herself, hiding away like a stone at the bottom of a river.  Now she was the current, dragging everyone in her path, swirling them in dizzying circles while she swept past.


Her heart beat quickly beneath her chest.  Small bumps pushed against her bra when her nipples grew erect, the flat, pink flesh twisting until they were clearly visible.

Victoria stopped in the middle of the street.  Eight pairs of eyes watched as she bent forward.  While still holding the anklet tight, she reached for the hem of her skirt to lift it, raising it slowly over her legs until the seat of her panties were nearly visible.  Someone groaned.  A woman moaned.  She let it lie against her ass while reaching forward to fiddle with her shoelaces, as if she’d stopped to fix them and nothing more.  And then she straightened.


Energy filled her to the tips of her toes and fingers and ears until she was brimming with it.  Her left hand trailed up to her shirt and another button slipped free.  Another.  A third.  The shirt, tucked into her skirt, lay completely open. Wind forced it apart, baring her chest for all to see.  Her body felt alive and she ached to be touched.  To be caressed.  To be kissed.  To be taken.


Fantasies filled her as she continued her walk.  Fantasies of being bent over a glass table, panties dragged down with a fat cock thrusting into her.  Surrounded by people standing, sitting, lounging, watching, talking amongst themselves.  Stroking themselves.  But always watching.  Watching her as she cried out in pleasure until the man walked away and she turned, legs spread to show everyone while masturbating.  Gathering a crowd around her.  All eyes on her as she lifted her legs with her heels against her chair, plunging fingers within while screaming out from every orgasm.


She stood before her apartment door, inside the multi-level building, without remembering the rest of the walk.  Her key scratched the metal plate until she lifted it to press into the hole on the doorknob.  


Alone in her apartment, with the door closed and locked behind her, Victoria stared down at her body.  Her shirt was untucked and opened.  She remembered it happening – remember doing it and enjoying it at the time but it felt like that was a completely different Victoria.


The strange sense of abandonment returned.  Like a lover’s affection withdrawn without warning or explanation.  She mentally picked at it while untying her shoes and her lips twisted into the hint of a moue while she focused inward.  Her open shirt slipped from her shoulders when she shrugged out of it.


Victoria flopped onto her couch, pressing back into it before lifting her feet to lay her heels on the small coffee table.


The anklet rested against her stomach, still clutched in her right hand.  She hadn’t even realized she was still holding it.  It was a comfortable weight when she placed it on her palm, neither too heavy or too light.  She ran her thumb over the three symbols yet again and wondered why she hadn’t asked the clerk for the meaning.  The answer came immediately when she remembered the odd interaction and the way she stood up for herself.


Her hand trembled.  


It had been empowering.  Thrilling.  She’d walked out on a high that increased every time someone noticed her.


Victoria sighed while turning her head and spreading her legs apart.  Her hand slipped beneath the elastic band of her skirt, sliding down her smooth belly until she felt the tiny, wrinkled hood covering her clit.  She sighed again when her finger felt the sticky wetness covering her labia.  Her finger rubbed back and forth against the inner lips.


The inside of her thigh and her entire crotch was coated in her cum, slick and warm.  She gasped when she touched herself.  In addition to how incredibly wet she was, her body was as sensitive as if she’d already orgasmed several times.


Her eyes focused on the floor-length window in the little area the apartment managed had optimistically sold as a ‘breakfast nook.’  Too small for anything other than an end table, she’d left it empty.  Now she stared through the open curtain at the faint cars in the distance.


People staring at her.  Watching her.  Enjoying her slim body as she passed.  The center of attention for all within eyesight.  


“Fuck,” Victoria whispered.  She exhaled sharply from a small orgasm while sliding her ass forward and spreading her legs wider.


It wasn’t the same.  Despite how turned on she was at that very moment, it wasn’t at all the same.


Victoria pulled her hand away before wiping her fingers on her dress.  She walked, entranced, to the tall window set into the recessed wall to stare down at the sidewalk and street below.  Her pale reflection looked back at her, a soft reminder of the people watching her earlier.  


She lived on the third floor of her building.  People rarely looked up and she’d appreciated that in the past, but now, with the anklet clutched to her chest, she wished they would.  Like they had earlier.  Entranced by her.


“God,” she gasped, closing her eyes while placing the tips of her fingers against the glass.  


She could do it.  It was so clear to her now that she almost laughed.  The Victoria in her imagination spoke casually and clearly to Elias.  Speaking to him as an equal.  Telling him how much she enjoyed working with him and how wonderful he was to her.  Polite, understanding and accommodating – all things she looked for in a significant other.  Rather than submissively hinting with ‘If you’d like to get drinks sometime, I’d be happy to go with you’ she would tell him: ‘Have drinks with me tonight.  I like you and I want to get to know you better.’


Her clothes were a problem, she knew.  The skirts were too long and her shirts too conservative. 


“I’ll stop wearing a bra,” she told her reflection and the thought pleased her.  


No bra and a few buttons undone.  To declare her interest and intent to Elias while also giving customers a show.  Going about her business as if nothing was unusual but secretly enjoying their looks.  She reached behind her back to her bra strap.  The anklet tapped against the fabric.  She frowned and pulled her hands around to stare at her right hand.  For some reason, she kept forgetting that she still held the thing.


“Well, why not?” she asked herself before bending to touch her right knee to the ground.  


Victoria turned the anklet in her hand until the latch faced forward.  She slipped it over her leg, above her left ankle.  It snapped shut, clicking into place with the slightest touch.


Now she stood and she reached back once more, unhooking her bra.  Watching the flow of foot traffic below as she stood in front of the window.  Sliding the bra over her shoulders and arms until it hung from the tips of her fingers.  Boldly inviting anyone to look as she tipped her hand to drop the bra to the floor.


Her breath quickened.  She stood straight, lifting her breasts proudly.  Raising her hands to them.  Palms against the smooth, warm skin. Sliding around the curves and up to pinch her pink nipples.  Moaning quietly.  Teasing herself until she was yearning for more.


Fingers into the waistband of her skirt, pulling it away from her hips while pushing down.  An imagined lover stripping her in front of the window.  For all to see.  Her simple white panties were dark between her thighs, soaked from her excitement.  She could feel it when she rubbed her legs together, sawing them back and forth until she was able to step out of her skirt.


Now turning.  Bending slightly.  Thumbs hooked into her panties.  Looking over her shoulder.  Praying someone would see her as she slowly slowly slowly slid her panties over her ass.  The sticky hot mess tugged gently at her labia and she moaned when she felt the cool air against her bare pussy.  


Victoria bent forward, guiding the panties down while her ass raised slightly.  Once more she lifted one foot and then the other until she stood completely naked before the window.  She gripped her ankles, staring at the gold band wrapped around her left foot while spreading her legs.  Her pussy lips opened to show a thin clear sheen of cum.


She imagined a crowd watching her.  More in the building opposite, staring through their own windows.  Enjoying the show she put on.  Masturbating to her.


“God yessss,” she hissed, sliding her hands up her legs and between her thighs until her fingers surrounded her pussy lips.  She opened them wider before sliding her middle finger inside.  Her other hand touched the wall next to her for support when she added her ring finger.  Muscles tightened against the two fingers as she slowly thrust them back and forth.


“Look at me,” she told the imaginary crowd.  Her fingers worked faster and she tensed around them, squeezing them to enjoy the feel of them.  She was already close.  Already aroused by her earlier performance and still so very sensitive.  “I’ll cum for you.  Watch me.  I’ll cum for you.”


Keratin formed beneath her skin around the band of the anklet, building thin layer upon layer until they pushed through her flesh in thin lines that widened into narrow ovals.  The bone-colored lumps grew dark as they hardened and the anklet clinked faintly on the obsidian scutes ringing her lower leg.


The fibrous protein spread, radiating outward from the anklet in a slow progression with a new hardened plate growing nearly every minute. Between them, her pale white skin faded, color draining to gray.


Victoria’s fingers made wet squelching sounds as she pounded them deep inside.  Whining and moaning as her orgasm neared.  It was monstrous, built upon the foundations of her exhibitionism and the imaginary crowd watching her.  They took pictures, they unzipped themselves to grab their cocks or play with their clits, they recorded videos of her, they moaned out her name while begging for more and she responded, screaming out from the orgasm that exploded within.  Her legs grew weak, forcing her down to her knees.


The clasp locking her anklet melted away, fusing with the golden band to leave it in one unbroken piece. It slid against the smooth, hardened scutes covering her lower leg before catching against her skin.


She held herself up with her left hand while her right lay trapped between her trembling thighs.  The girl swallowed and moaned and leaned against the wall next to her, short red hair cushioning her head.


No panties, she told herself, picturing herself at work with customers wandering around.  Walking between them to help.  Bending to retrieve something.  Her shortened skirt pulling high to reveal bare legs and the hint of more.  Sitting to masturbate quietly.  They’d be drawn to her, forgetting what they came for as they crowded her desk.  She’d push back, raising her legs in front of them while rubbing herself.


With a low, needy groan, Victoria’s fingers pressed between her slick, swollen lips.  She sighed, exhaling with a long breath as she began again.  A hole opened over the top of her right foot, spreading to allow keratin through in order to create a new scute.  Another grew higher, closer to her ankle.  She pushed back, ass bouncing against her heels while the joints of her big toes clicked in a rhythm to match.  When she shoved down, they separated from her foot to angle inward.


A hard, thumping knock at her door interrupted her.  Victoria jerked, startled from her reverie just as Elias, in her imagination, was stripping out of his clothes in front of the customers as work.


She stood, swaying on unstead feet with her large toes pointing further inward.  Dense layers grew over her toenails and each was darker than the last until the black tips were forced forward, curling to tick-tack-tick against the floor until she reached the door.  Faint white scratch marks marred the wooden flooring where she’d stepped.


More pounding shook the door on its hinges when she stood before it.  She hesitated, suddenly frightened by the ferocity of the knocking.


“One moment,” she called out.


Victoria stood on her tiptoes.  Her claws gouged the floor beneath her.  The locked door swung open, forcing her to squawk and stumble backwards.


A squat, wide man dressed in an open Hawaiian shirt and white slacks stepped into the apartment.  Victoria stared at him before looking over, and up, to the tall woman following behind him.  She was dressed in a classic business suit with an immaculately knotted black tie and black jacket.


“You can’t just-!” Victoria started to say but they ignored her.


“Is it her?” the other woman asked.


“Oh yeah, hundred percent,” the man replied.  He held a stick in his hand with an emerald crystal attached to the end.  It glowed with a weak, pulsing light in front of Victoria.


“Who are you people?” Victoria asked, stepping further backwards.  The way they both ignored her was almost as terrifying as the fact that they’d just walked into her locked apartment without warning.


“She’s not a sorceress, that’s clear,” the other woman said, watching the crystal for a moment before closing the door behind her.  “I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a low affinity.”


“Most of it’s coming from that bauble she’s wearing,” he told her.


“Damn,” the woman said.  


The tall woman took a long step forward before kneeling.  Victoria tried to get away from her but the woman grabbed her left leg with a surprisingly strong grip to keep her in place.


“Nah, you don’t even need to check,” the man told her.  “I can see from here that it’s too late.”


“What’s too late?  What are you talking about? Tell me who you are!” Victoria demanded, struggling in the woman’s hand.


Skin tightened around Victoria’s breasts while fat melted away.  The pendulous curves flaring out to the sides of her chest vanished as they pulled inward, shrinking until they lay completely within the frame of her body.


“Pisces, gold, and air,” the woman said, tracing the symbols on the anklet around Victoria’s left leg.  “We are too late.  What do you suppose?  Raven?  Gavin?  Oh, Gavin, for fuck’s sake.  Concentrate.”


“Hmm?”  The man asked while staring down at Victoria with his hand against his crotch.  He blinked rapidly, shrugged and scratched at the stubble on his cheeks.  “Woof.  That’s a strong one, Maddie.”


“She picked it for a reason,” Maddie muttered.  “Bonded tightly to her.  We’ll have to bring her in.  No wipe will work here.”


“Let me go!” Victoria yelled, pulling hard.  Her taut ass jiggled slightly while stretching around muscle and fat growing beneath.  She pulled again but the other woman let go and Victoria fell backwards onto her padded ass.  Bones creaked within her hips.  They flexed open, pushing against her waist until her slim figure widened into gentle curves.  Strands of muscle multiplied beneath her thighs, accentuating her new curves.


“How were you able to buy this?” Maddie asked, staring down at Victoria’s prone, naked body.


Victoria stared defiantly back up at the woman with her arms down at her sides.  Her big toes tapped against the floor in front of her, cracking scutes and curved black claws against the wood.  They were nearly horizontal now – still moving and independent of the rest of the toes.


“I asked you a question, girl,” Maddie growled.  She twisted a ring on her right hand while pressing her thumb into the amber stone inlaid within.


A peculiar sensation bloomed inside of Victoria’s skull.  Tentacles lanced out, latching onto the various systems inside her brain.  There was a feeling of pressure and otherness that made her feel sick.


“I- I- I- don’t- don’t-” she chattered before groaning.


“Is she resisting it?  That’s impressive,” Gavin said, standing on his toes to look over Maddie’s shoulder.


“I d- don’t know what you muh- mean,” Victoria said.  The words were forced from her as if she were a puppet made to speak.  “I just buh- bought it.  From the store.  By the smoothie store.  Wuh- What- what are you doing to me?”


“Go easy on her before her brains leak out,” Gavin said while placing a careful hand against Maddie’s upper arm.


Maddie shook him off but relented and Victoria collapsed, falling to her back.  He gasped for air while staring at the ceiling and waiting for the vertigo to pass.


“I don’t understand,” Maddie said.  Her foot tapped against the floor.  “Elias is smarter than this.  He’d have the proper protections in place.  We’ll need to petition the council to interrogate him after we tear his shop apart.”


“I think you mean,” Gavin said while scratching his cheek once more.  “I think you mean we’ll beg the council for the privilege to inspect Elias’ shop while he supervises us and then hope that he allows us to politely ask him a few questions, Mads.”


“Elias… didn’t… anything,” Victoria groaned.  “Leave… alone…”


The pair turned to look down at her.  Gavin clucked and shook his head when he watched Victoria’s innermost toes pop and angle downward.  As they’d rotated, they slid along her feet until they jutted from the base of her heels.  The nearly white skin on her soles lost their coloring when her scutes consumed the top of her feet.


She jerked when her feet jumped and her toes popped.  Tendons and muscle pulled the small bones apart, stretching them until her toes curled into fists with her dark claws bent to press into her gray forefeet.  Her legs trembled.  The clenched toes slid apart while her feet widened.  She gasped, opening her toes while slamming her heels into the ground.  


Victoria yelped when her big toes, resting against the back of her feet, hit the ground.  They curled and the other toes followed suit until all five were rolled inward.


“I think raven,” Maddie said while watching the spectacle.


“Nah.  Something showy,” Gavin said.  “Peacock, maybe?”


“Bet?” Maddie asked.


“Yeah, I’ll take that,” came the reply.


Bone deep pain brought lancing agony that shot up into Victoria’s legs.  She shoved her legs out, opening her toes while stretching as much as possible.  Flesh grew between her little toes and the neighboring toes, sealing them together into one large mass while her arches elongated, forcing her toes further away.  The tendons pushed against her flesh until the gray skin swelled to accommodate them.  The pain faded slowly, allowing her to rest her feet against the floor.


“Let’s get her up,” Gavin said.  “We’ll need to get her into holding before the auction tonight.  Chris and Tanya found five others, all together in one place.  Bunch of dumb college girls found a book in one of Lester’s old hideouts.  Remember that asshole?  Figured they’d get day drunk and play at magic a bit.”


Gavin reached down to slide his hands under Victoria.  She tried to resist but the room spun.  He lifted and held his arm around her, carefully placed well beneath her breath.


“Sorry, girl,” Gavin said quietly while walking her towards the door.  “One of the girls – a rhinoceros.  Can you believe it?  And not happy about it.  Took two whole other teams to knock her out.  That one’s got some heavy lifting in her future.”


“Where.  Are you taking.  Me?” Victoria asked.


“Auction house,” Maddie told her after opening the apartment door.  “For better or worse, you’ve got a new life ahead of you.  Someone will come for your things eventually.”


The world righted itself when they reached the stairs down.  


“Help!” Victoria screamed while pounding on Gavin’s back and chest.  He held her tight despite the onslaught.  “Somebody help me!  I’m being kidnapped.”


“Damn birds always get their bearings back too fast,” the man grunted.  “Their metabolism and that whatever- inner ear thing for flight or something.  That’s what I think.”


“You want me to bind her?” Maddie asked as they walked down the stairs.


“Nah, she’s good,” he said.  “Don’t want to rough her up more than necessary, poor thing.  And, you know, doesn’t really hurt.  Light as a feather and all that.  Just like a peacock should be.  It’s good magic.”


“Raven,” Maddie told him.


“Help, please!  Why- why won’t anyone help me!” Victoria screamed again when they reached the street.


People walked along the sidewalk, talking with their companions or loved ones, browsing their phones, or just enjoying the scenery as they traveled around town.  All of them made a wide path around the trio.


“Lady- you- you with the dog, please!  Why- why won’t they-“


“You’re going mad, that’s why, and all of this is just a psychotic break,” Maddie told her.


“Aww, that’s just mean, come on, Mads,” Gavin said.  “Look, girl.  It’s magic.  I don’t know what else you expected, honestly.  We’re walking you out in public, naked as the day you were born, during the daytime without gagging you and you think, what, you think nobody will say a word?  The world’s not that dire yet, sweetheart.  Somebody would come to your rescue if they could see you, you can bet on that.  You’re gonna need to start using your head a lot more from now on.  You’re in a whole new world with all kinds of strange rules.”


“Please,” Victoria begged.  “I didn’t do anything wrong.  Please just- just don’t hurt me.  I don’t have a lot of money but-“


“Here we are, then,” Gavin told her as they stood before a plain white van.  


Maddie pulled the handle on the side door, sliding it open to reveal a padded interior.  Gavin gently lay Victoria down inside.  She sat up but he held up a single finger.


“Stay,” he told her.  And she did.  Frozen in place by the command until Maddie slammed the door closed.


“You always do that too hard,” Gavin huffed, his voice muffled by the sound proofing inside the van.


“Get off my ass,” Maddie told him.


Gavin replied but their voices faded.  Victoria strained to hear them speaking but she heard nothing until the driver and passenger doors shut with a quiet ‘thump.’  She squawked when the van began to move, throwing her off balance temporarily.


Victoria scratched her arms while looking around the inside of the van.  Her knees were bent before her with her legs to the side and her feet out of sight.  There was nothing in the van.  Both the back and the dividing window were blacked out and every surface was covered in a plush white cushion.  


Her nails raked down her upper arms and then down to her forearms.  They were crossed under her smaller breasts and she found herself rubbing her arms against her body while scratching as deep as she could. 


Tiny cavities opened in her arms.  Flesh was forced aside to make space for the tubular sockets while cells divided and multiplied at a frantic pace.  Victoria groaned while scratching the insane itching sensations they caused and, in return, she found pleasure in it.  Her nails dragged down her skin hard enough to leave hard marks.  


A hardened shaft bumped against her left finger.  Victoria held out her right arm to watch, with wide eyes, as the follicles opened.  Thin, spiny white shafts forced the holes to widen as they slipped through her skin to emerge.


She screamed while waving her arms and the papillae moved in rippling waves against her body.  They felt like strange painless daggers jabbing into her, solidifying in place within their follicles. She winced as she watched them grow, expecting agony where none existed.  


The strange shafts were short over the top of her arms but they elongated to absurd lengths along her biceps and inside of her arm.  Victoria kicked back, as if she could escape from them and only then did she notice her massive, clawed feet.  She shrieked, flapping her arms in fear until the bones creaked.


Her skin was stretching over her arms.  She turned, knocking her hands against the divider between the cargo area and the front of the van.  Her proprioception was wildly out of place, screaming at her that her hands weren’t where they should be.  She raised her arms carefully to stare at her fingers.  Her brain tried to reconcile how far away they were from her body but it shelved the issue when she realized how stiff her fingers were.  


“Come on, come on,” Victoria groaned as she tried to spread her fingers apart.  They twitched feebly but barely moved.  “I can- I can do this.”


The tips of her fingers curled but the effort exhausted her and they opened flat to create her alula.  Holes opened in the formless mass of flesh consuming her fingers.  More papillae, thin and short, pierced the skin until her arms were completely covered in milky white quill-like structures.  They weighed against her and the stress of the situation wore her out until she lay her arms against her legs.  The shafts settled against the padded flooring around her.  


Her thumbs flexed.  They were separate from her now-shapeless hands and she could still move them.  But the joints were radiated with a throbbing ache that made her grind her teeth.  She hissed, breathing through her nose when the thumbs popped.  The first joint swelled when the base of her nails pushed into the flesh beneath, keratin growing around the bone to lock it in place.  Once anchored, her thumbnails grew thick, white fading to gray and darkening further to black until they were an inch thick and curving away into cruel, sharp tips.  


Tiny gray scutes emerged around her elongated thumbs.  They spread over the swollen flesh until all she could see was the strange pebble-like plating and obsidian claw.  Still, it bent when she flexed it and she was grateful for that, at least.


Victoria stretched her arms and was shocked when she realized she could easily reach far past her feet without bending her upper body.  It was difficult to judge their length but she thought they were perhaps four feet long to the tips of the claws on her thumbs.


“Tsssss,” she hissed, rolling her head.  She reached up to her neck by reflex but her strange alula and thumbs slammed into the roof of the van.  The girl shivered while flexing her shoulders.  The thin shafts covering them waved back and forth.  Something crawled beneath her scalp.  She bent her arms, folding them until she could press her thumbs carefully into her neck.  Her claws dragged through papillae emerging from beneath her short hair.  They spread from behind one ear, down over her neck and up to her other ear, spearing through the tips of her bob haircut until the sharp tips scratched against her back.


“What- what did you do to me,” she groaned.  


Nerves wound around her spine, forcing her forward.  She shoved her arms against the ground and her claws tore through the padding.  Although she tried to hold it back, Victoria moaned, loudly, when the nerves connected to her tailbone and it pushed, shoving into her lower back to stretch the surrounding flesh.  It was- a unique feeling that left her trembling despite the situation.


The skin beneath the base of her expanding tail rubbed against her round ass cheeks.  She groaned and spread her legs while arching her back.  Spherical sockets opened within the lump of her tail – digging, itching, clawing, scratching microscopic fingers that made her moan loudly.  Papillae erupted throughout her tail and it twitched in response, startling her when she felt the muscles moving in her own body.  She focused and tweaked them as an experiment and the tail lifted before slapping back down against her ass hard enough that she yelped.  Other muscles flexed and the tail spread, pushing against the edges of the flesh surrounding them.


Victoria looked over her shoulders.  She was panting and blushing, the red rising easily to her pale face until they matched the color of the freckles covering her nose and cheeks.  With her tail down, the three foot long shafts covering it brushed against the floor.  That forced the roots of the papillae to move in their follicles and she moaned again, turning back around while bowing her head.  Her clawed feet clenched, thick toes rolling inward until the tips pressed into the thick gray flesh of her elongated feet.


The brief moment of respite lulled her into a momentary calm that was shattered when pleasurable little prickling pins pierced her smooth mons.  Victoria cried out and her tail fluttered behind her, lifting and drooping before lifting once more.  She moaned, sitting back on her tail to stare down at her smooth, firm belly.


Thread-like white papillae forced themselves through the skin over her mound.  She stared at the strange wiry little hairs as they lengthened.  They lay back against her body when they finished growing but continued to spread over her crotch.


Victoria reached for the delicate shafts with her right hand. The air stirred within the back of the van from the motion of the papillae hanging from the bottom of her arm.  It took her three tries to find the right way to bend the elongated appendage before she could bring her thumb down to her belly.  She carefully dragged the dense, hooked claw through the soft strands.


“Oh!  Ohhhh,” she groaned while pressing her thighs together.  More papillae pierced her outer labia.  She rubbed her legs together and breathed through her nose in an effort to counter the enjoyable sensation.


The van rattled.  Victoria bounced against the floor until she reached her arms out to steady herself.  With a loud metallic screech, her talons tore into the padding and the metal beneath.  She stared from one outstretched arm to the other in amazement until she tried to tug them free.


“Shit.  Oh, shit,” she muttered.  Her thin arms strained but the claws held tight until she remembered she could still move her thumbs.  They wiggled as she concentrated and she shuddered at the sound of metal scratching against the dense black talons. 


In the ensuing silence, she waited for everything to continue.  There was no mirror so she feared the worst, especially without the ability to touch herself and explore her body properly.  Her unwieldy arms and oversized thumbs were nearly useless.  


Did anything happen to my face? she wondered while thinking back through the past ten minutes.  Has it only been that long?


The van slowed.  Without the distractions of her changing body, panic began to set in.  While the woman – Maddie, she remembered, terrified her, neither had hurt her.  But she just now recalled one of them mentioning an auction and a new life.


She had to do something.


Doors thumped at the edge of her hearing.  She turned as well as she could in the cramped space until she was facing the side of the van.  Her heart raced until she thought she’d burst.  It felt incredibly fast to her – an almost continuous dit-dit-dit-dit rather than a steady beat.


The handle lifted.  The door slid on its wheels to show bright light that left Victoria momentarily blinded.


“Jesus Christ, look at you,” Gavin said.


“Hey, show some fucking respect to the man.  You know what-” Maddie started to say.


Victoria lashed out with her left hand while her right anchored her to the van.  The hooked talon tipping her thumb ripped through metal on the side of the door when she misjudged the distance but it continued.  Gavin jumped sideways while opening his mouth to curse while Maddie tracked the movement, turning her head to watch as it sliced through her upper arm.  The woman was flung to the side, spinning through the air with a shrill scream.


“STOP!” Gavin yelled.  His voice had an unnatural depth to it.  Power.


Victoria froze mid-strike.


“Fuck!  FUCK!  She almost tore my goddamn arm off!  Ow, fuck, I’m bleeding out!” Maddie screamed, kicking as she forced herself up.  Her right arm dangled by her side.  “Awww, fuck, the bitch broke bone.  I can see my fucking bones!”


“Patch yourself up, dammit!”  Gavin told her before turning back to Victoria.  “Well, girl, that honestly surprised me.  I didn’t think you had it in you and I hope you don’t have any more of that in you, either.  Neither of us want to hurt you but we’ll get you where you have to be by whatever force is necessary.”


Victoria’s green eyes blazed in the sunlight while her body trembled in the grasp of the spell holding her in place.  They flicked over to watch Maddie.  The other woman held her left hand up to her right arm.  Bright blue light emanated from her palm and she moaned.  Sweat poured from her brow.


“You got us good, that’s no lie,” Gavin continued.  “I don’t blame you, honestly.  In fact, I’m impressed.  Most just fold up and cry.  But, here’s the thing – you want us to keep being nice to you.  You got your hit.  That’s a free one.  Please don’t try again.  You don’t want to see what we’re truly capable of.  Let’s make the rest of this easy on all involved.  Deal?”


Victoria glared as best she could within the constraints surrounding her.  Finally, her head dipped fractionally.


“Good, that’s good,” Gavin said.  Once more he turned to look over his shoulder.  “You okay, Mads?”


“Fucking bitch got me,” the woman groaned.  She worked her right arm in an arc before standing up.


“I know, but we’ve come to an understanding,” Gavin told her.  “I’ll walk her out while you stay behind.  Just in case.”


“She’s lucky you’re here,” Maddie said darkly.  


“I know and I’m pretty sure she knows that, too,” Gavin said.  He reached out his hand.  “Come on, then.”


When the man’s fingers touched the end of her arm, the spell broke.  She clenched his hand with her thumb, wrapping the bulbous digit around three of his thick fingers with her talon touching his palm.  A not-so-subtle warning.  Maddie took several steps back while Victoria slid from the van.


“Careful there,” Gavin told her.


Victoria’s toes cracked against the pavement.  She wobbled, dipping down in a reflexive move to stand on her feet until Gavin lifted her up to her toes.


“You’ll get it.  Just takes time.  Think of it like walking on your tiptoes,” he said.


She stared down at her legs, at the mottled gray texture and the shining black scutes.  Her toes, three forward on each foot and one facing backward, were huge.  She raised her foot and her toes folded inward to point down.  Victoria held it there, forcing the toes to open before relaxing and letting them fold together once more.  The two forward toes on the side of her foot spread to the side to help stabilize her.  Her tail fanned the air with sharp, precise movements when she set her foot back down.  The toes opened once more, scraping talons against concrete as she took a step.  Her left foot raised in the same way until she placed it down to stand on the solid tips of her eight toes.


“That’s a girl, you’ve got it,” Gavin said.


“Fuck you,” Victoria told him while taking another step.  She hated that it was beginning to feel natural.  Her knees bent slightly when she pressed her foot down while her elongated foot flexed back on her heel.


“I know, I know,” Gavin said.  He took his hand away when she continued to walk but he followed by her side.


Victoria looked up to see a huge, three story brick building in front of her.  The area appeared to be industrial but it was too clean and the air was surprisingly fresh.  A gust of wind swirled over her, pulling at the shafts dangling from her arms while ruffling the smaller ones covering her shoulders.  Her tail twisted and lifted behind her but she ignored it while moving forward until they reached a simple, unadorned door 


Gavin reached for the handle but she shoved him aside.  Waves of heat assaulted her from behind.


“Do it, fucking do it,” Maddie begged.  “Give me a reason to burn you.”


“Mads…” Gavin sighed.


“I want to open the door,” Victoria told him.  “That’s all.”


She hated what her body had become, the strange bristly strings dangling over her like garish wind chimes.  Even without a mirror she could see how hideous she was.  Her feet were deformed and her arms were gangly abominations.


Still, it was her body.  Determination, fueled by self-confidence, filled her.  She refused to pity herself or give in to despair.


The wind buffeted her arms until they flailed around her but she pulled her right arm forward, scraping against the door until her talon hooked into the handle.  She gripped it with her thumb and pushed.  It snapped and something rattled within and she could see a deep arching gouge from her claw but the door opened when she pulled.


“After you,” Victoria said with a feral grin.


“Ah, no,” Gavin told her, holding the door while gesturing for her to go.


Victoria walked into the cool building.  Maddie followed and Gavin closed the door behind them before slipping past the woman to walk beside Victoria.  She was led to another door, which Gavin opened, and then inside into a simple room with a desk, a few chairs on a standing mirror.  


“They’ll call for you,” Gavin told her.  


“I hope they’re-” Maddie started to say until Gavin took her arm.  She hissed, snatching it away while swaying.


“Come on, now, that’s not going to be helpful,” he interrupted.  “Let’s have medical take a look.  Gotta be bad if you couldn’t fix it up all the way.”


At the door, he stopped and turned to her.  He opened his mouth, closed it and then opened it again.


“I’m sorry, kid,” he said.  “But, there’s not much of a choice.  Good luck.”


The door closed, leaving Victoria alone once more.


Warm air surrounded her.  She shivered briefly and goosebumps rose over her body.  The mirror was set in the corner, angled towards the ceiling.


“Oh well, let’s get this over with,” she told herself.  


Victoria lurched forward.  Her arms spread automatically until she pulled them back to rest against her side.  When she stood before the mirror, she reached out her right arm to tap her talon against the bottom, tilting it until she could see her body.


“Oh,” she said.


The black claws on her feet raised briefly before clicking against the floor.  She forced her head down to stare at the ashen colored skin and obsidian scutes covering her toes and shins.  With a quick glance, she looked up to her face and breathed out a sigh of relief to see it unchanged.  White shafts dangled from beneath the tips of her short red hair.


It was the larger, heavy rachis dangling from her arms and covering her shoulders that were the worst of it.  She reached her arm around until she was able to awkwardly grab one with her thumb but, when giving it a careful tug, she released it immediately with a sharp hiss of pain.  


There were countless strands covering her arms.  Her tail moved, reminding her of its existence and she turned to stare at the wide lump.  The skin was completely hidden beneath shafts that matched the ones on her arms, dangling to brush against the backs of her thighs and the shiny black plates covering her calves.


Turning back, she stared at her chest, cocking her head and squinting before reaching for her breasts.  She didn’t notice how much easier it was becoming to manipulate her arms as she pressed both talons against the bottom of her breasts to push against the soft skin.


“They are smaller,” she said with a sigh.  “They- they-“


A hint of color appeared in a single shaft attached to the middle of her right arm.  She raised her arm to stare closely at it.  The previously white coloring had darkened and now she noticed the ones surrounding them had also changed.  Her head jerked back when the shaft pulled apart to reveal dark mahogany coloring within.


Long barbs stretched and strained over the central shaft of the single feather.  Her breath caught when she realized what it was.  The vane opened from the base to the tip as it dried and the color lightened.  Her breath ruffled the feather, pushing against it until it swayed back against the neighboring shafts.  More feathers began to open with quick, soundless little pops of movement.


They shimmered in the overhead lighting as if covered in microscopic glitter that caught and reflected the lights from an infinite number of facets.  

The mirror reflected shades of blue.  She glanced up to stare at the back of her wings to see more feathers opening.  Layers upon layers of them in a brilliant lapis coloring that perfectly contrasted against the crimson feathers inside.  


“Oh.  Oh!  Holy shit!”  she gasped.


Victoria raised herself up to her claws and spun, spreading her arms wide.  She could hear the wind rippling over them as they separated and settled into place.  Her tail bounced against her bare ass and she squawked when she felt the tickling sensation of her tail feathers.  They streamed behind her with short blue feathers overlapped by red feathers longer than the ones covering her wings.


She pumped her arms.  Dust whirled away from her and the mirror squeaked backwards on small wheels when a gust of wind pushed against it.


“Holy shit!” Victoria squealed, repeating herself in excitement.  She flapped her arms again and it lifted briefly into the air, five feet from the ground with her wings brushing against the ceiling.  Her toes folded beneath her until she fell and they opened to catch her.


Back on the ground, panting with her heart racing, she gripped the mirror with her thumbs to steady it.  Jade green feathers rippled open over her shoulders.  She giggled and shivered but watched closely as the small vines spread apart.  As they dried, they lightened into mossy coloring.


“If only I had a hair dryer,” she told her reflection while staring at the opened feathers beneath her hair.


The door opened at the back of the room.  She screamed when she heard a man cough loudly and her wings closed around her, thumbs hooking against each other just beneath her throat.  The cloak of her wings hid her body completely while her tail feather flexed down to hide her ass and legs.


“We’re ready for you,” the man said.


“Who’s ready for me?  What’s ready for me?” she demanded but he simply stood by the door waiting for her.


“Goddamn all of you,” she growled at him.


She stalked over to him, purposefully slamming her toes into the ground while curling them to tear at the carpet beneath her, ripping it apart every time she lifted her foot.  The man appeared not to care or notice but his eyes were hidden beneath sunglasses so she couldn’t say for certain.


Her feathers rippled when the air conditioning blasted cool air against her body.  They blocked it completely and she smiled before realizing what she was smiling about.  The hallway was clean and empty with closed doors branching off to either side at random intervals.  The man ignored all of them until he reached curtains at the end of the hallway.  He stopped and pulled them aside to reveal a darkened area beyond.


Victoria pushed the curtains further apart with her talons when she entered.  Steps led to a round stage that was bisected by gigantic velvet curtains.  There was nothing else.  She swallowed and walked to the stairs, hesitating briefly before stepping up.  Her claws gouged the wood while the back toe curled to grip the lip of the stair.  The wood cracked when she lifted her foot to step up to the next one and her tail feathers wiggled briefly back and forth as her anxiety began to rise.


Utter silence greeted her as she walked to the center of the stage.  She swallowed and rubbed her thumbs together beneath her throat.  Sweat rolled down her chest.


The curtains opened.  Victoria raised her left wing to shield her eyes from the glaring overhead stage lights.  She squinted until she could bear how bright they were and her wing settled back against her body.


Voices murmured before her.


“Who’s there?” she called out with a shaking voice.


Dark shapes filled seats before the stage.


“Gorgeous,” a man said.  “Absolutely gorgeous.”


“She’s stunning,” a woman gasped.  “Look at her coloring!”


Their compliments stroked her ego.  She squirmed under the attention, swinging her head from one shape to the next when she heard them speak.  


Eyes on her body.  She felt herself growing warm under their attention.  Her talons dragged lightly against her chest while her tail lifted and the feathers spread, causing an explosion of appreciative muttering.


Victoria licked her lips.  


Her wings unfolded, brilliant scarlet backed by lapis as she raised them high.  


“Such a trim body, no wonder she was drawn to it,” another voice said quietly.  “How old was she again?”


She felt dazed beneath the lights, torn between exposing herself and hiding herself away.  The attention was intoxicating.  Every compliment fanned the flames of her self-confidence until it took all of her fading willpower not to turn around and lift her tail with her legs spread.  


Instead, Victoria spun, as she had in the waiting room.  Spreading her wings wide to twirl on the tip of her clenched toes.  Lifting one wing and then the other in a wave as she spun until she shoved her toes down, cracking through the dark wood below to catch herself.  Anchored to the ground, she raised her wings and flapped.  The gust of wind spilled drinks and toppled empty chairs, much to the amusement of those involved.  A few clapped and called out and she grinned in return.  


They were all watching her.  Loving her.  Wanting her.


“I’ll now start the bidding,” a sedate voice said from the side of the stage.


“Bidding?” Victoria asked between breaths.  


“One hundred thousand!” a woman’s voice yelled out.


Others followed, slowly increasing the amounts.  Victoria’s thrill began to fade as she realized what was happening.


“Wait,” she said.  “Just, wait.  You can’t do this.”


“Two hundred and twenty-five thousand!” a man yelled.


As her eyes adjusted to the lights, she began to make out faces.  Nearly a hundred people were seated before her, spread out within the enormous chamber facing the stage.


Beautiful Question Mark sat off to the side.  Watching her expressionlessly.


“You- you!  I know you!” she said, staring at him.  They lifted their chin but made no other response.


A woman was standing, bending over next to another patron.  Maddie.  Victoria’s mouth opened but she snapped it shut.  And then her eyes grew wide.


Elias sat in front of her with Maddie whispering in his ear.


“Elias!  Please!  You have to help me!” Victoria called out.


“Three hundred and thirty thousand,” an old man said from the back.  He laughed while stroking his oiled mustache.


“-to me first!” Elias’ angry voice carried through the rustling of the crowd.


Maddie glanced at the stage but continued to whisper until Elias wavered her away.  When she didn’t move, he turned slowly to glare at her.  She stood straight, wobbling briefly like a flicked spring before taking a step back.  When she left, she walked quickly without a backwards glance.


“Three hun-“


“Five hundred and fifty-thousand dollars,” Elias said loudly while staring at Victoria.  “Final.


The room grew quiet.  A few people coughed while another exited the room.


“Sold,” the man said from the side of the stage.


Elias stood.  He grabbed his long coat, tweaked his tie and walked to the back of the room.


“Wait!  Elias, wait!”  Victoria called out.


A large man approached from her left.  He touched her back, between her shoulder blades but she shrugged away from him.


“Get away from- I want to see Elias!” Victoria yelled, folding her wings around her body once more.


“And we’ll take you to him,” the man told her slowly, as if she were a slow-witted child.  “Just follow me.”


She stared at him for a few seconds before doing as he said.  He turned to guide her down another set of stairs.  Instead of walking down, she jumped.  Her wings opened and she landed softly on her toes.  The man waited for her but continued when she followed once more.  He opened a door for her and she brushed past him to stand in the hallway.


“A peacock!  What’d I say, Mads!  A peacock!” he yelled while jabbing the woman next to her.  They both sat back against the opposite wall.


“Female peacocks are brown, idiot,” Maddie told him while massaging her arm.  “Look it up.”


“Oh, I will, I will,” he told her.  “And then you’ll treat me to dinner after work.”


Don’t do it, Victoria told herself.  Don’t.  Don’t say-


“How’s your arm?” Victoria asked Maddie. She clenched her jaw while stare at the other woman and Gavin whistled.


“Alright, I think we’ve had our fun,” Gavin said.  “Come on, Mads.  No rest for the wicked.”


“Bitch,” Maddie spat.


The patiently waiting guide continued when Victoria walked away.  He opened broad double doors and she squawked when sunlight assaulted her once more.  Her wing immediately raised to block the light again while she blinked rapidly to adjust.


When she lowered her wing, Elias stood before her, leaning back against the door of a limousine.  Alone.


“Oh god!  Oh, thank god!” Victoria cried.  She ran to him, as quickly as her changed feet would allow but he met her away from the car with a hand against her chest when her wings opened to wrap around him in a hug.


“Be careful, please,” he told her.


“Oh, s- sorry, sorry,” she said, stepping back.  Her thumbs hooked together beneath her throat but the thumbs rubbed back and forth anxiously, scutes scratching loudly.  “I’m so sorry.  I don’t know what happened or who these people are or or or or-“


“I owe you an explanation,” he told her, turning to walk back to the car to open the door.


“Can we start with why you have a limousine?” she asked as he slipped inside.  “I had no idea!  I thought you were just an extremely handsome gardener with his own store!”


She hesitated before the car.  As carefully as she could, she reached her wings forward to grip the roof.  She raised her foot, bending the back toe to grip onto the floor, wincing and relaxing when metal crunched.  With even more caution, she pulled herself inside.  The car rocked until she slid into a seat opposite Elias.


“Is it rented?” she asked him.  Her wings lay against her lap with her talons nestled just beneath her breasts.


“No, it’s one of mine,” he told her.  


One of yours?  Wow,” she said, glancing around.  “I’ve never been inside of one.  I almost did at prom, but my date-“


Victoria rubbed the bridge of her nose with the side of her talon, hiding her face and chest with a brilliant wing.  She turned back around to face Elias with a shy smile.  Her talons nudged her breasts, lifting them before letting them drop down.  The slick black claws slid over the skin until they rubbed against her nipples.


Forced to sit on the edge of the seat due to her tail, she leaned back while spreading her legs.  Elias watched the display impassively and she studied him in return, trying to work out what to say while her body responded automatically.  She’d never been so close to him for such a long period of time.  She gasped when the very tip of her talon pressed into her nipple and only then did she realize what she was doing.  Her face burned while she settled her wings back against her body.  And still, her knees spread slightly further apart.


“Did they mistreat you?” Elias asked suddenly.


“Oh!  No,” she said.  “The one woman, Maddie, she acted rough but the other, Gavin, was nice.”


He nodded as if he already knew the answer.  She suspected that was the case, however.


I hurt Maddie, though,” Victoria confessed.  “When they were letting me out of their van.”


“I know,” he told her.  “She’ll be lucky if that’s the only thing she suffers from this whole fiasco.”


His voice soothed her and, despite everything that was happening, he appeared unflappable.  His presence and attitude bolstered her.  And left her flustered.  She’d had fantasies like this.  Alone with him.  Her breasts lifted when she sat straight and her thumbs slid down her body to her thighs, talons pressing into them to spread her legs further apart.


Wild fantasies where his passion overwhelmed his cool demeanor.  While she’d never imagined a limousine, the back of the office was always a favorite.  Calling her into the back for help but giving into his lust to fondle her and strip her until she was riding him on a convenient, comfortable couch.  Hands against his shoulders while her ass slapped down against his thighs and her tits bounced in his face.


Well, they won’t be bouncing so much anymore, she thought to herself.  Her right wing raised while her talon dragged against her body until her thumb toyed with the nipple once again.  The sensation of hardened scutes against soft skin and her erect, throbbing nipple made her gasp.


And once more she realized what she was doing.  She coughed, turning her head while crossing her wings over her body.


“It’s difficult, isn’t it?” he asked.


“Yes,” she said, shortly.


They rode in silence the rest of the way with Victoria exerting every ounce of control she could muster.  She had to keep herself in constant check as she could feel herself slipping whenever her fantasies distracted her.  After a few minutes, she slid forward further until her pussy wasn’t touching the seat.  She prayed to any god who would listen that she wouldn’t make a mess in his fancy car.


When the car pulled to the curb, Elias opened the door to step onto the sidewalk.  He held the door open while waiting for her to exit and she did, slowly unfolding herself as carefully as she could to stand next to him.


Wind ruffled her feathers, pushing against her even as she kept them folded around her.  


“They can’t see me, can they?” she asked while staring at the early evening crowds.


“No, not with me here,” Elias told her.  He closed the door before sweeping past her to unlock the door to the plant nursery.  Once more he held it open for her and she smiled at him while walking inside.


WIth his coat over his arm, he walked with her to the back.  She subconsciously cringed, expecting the resistance she’d felt earlier but none assaulted her as he unlocked his office and, again, held the door for her.


“Thank you,” she told him this time.  Her wing brushed against his body as she made her way into the spacious office.  “Hah!  There is a couch back here!”


“Pardon?” Elias asked when he entered.  He closed the door behind both of them.


“Oh, nothing, I just- I haven’t really been in here before,” she said sheepishly.


“I’m aware, yes, by design,” he told her.  “Come, sit.  Would you like a drink?”


“You know, yes, I think I could use one at this point,” she told him while sitting on the edge of the couch.  


“What would you like?” he asked her.


“Whatever’s convenient,” she replied.


Glasses clinked.  She watched him take a rectangular glass bottle, filled with dark brown liquid, from a cupboard.  The cork squeaked before popping quietly and he poured, a small measure for both of them.  Once finished, he brought it over to her and sat, facing her from the edge of the couch to her left.  Nearly a foot of space separated their knees.  Victoria forced herself to relax when fantasies tumbled through her imagination.


“So,” he said, swirling his drink.


“So,” she agreed, sticking her tongue out between her lips while reaching her wing out.  Her glass had a wide handle that she slipped her claw into.  The scarlet feathers mixed in with her hair trembled when she concentrated, gripping carefully and lifting.  “It’s like in those science fiction movies with the scientists manipulating robot arms.”


The glass touched her lips.  Elias watched her closely, staring at her small, pert nose and the freckles covering them.  At her green eyes when she squinted in concentration.


“Haaaaaaaah, dang!” she hissed after taking a sip.  Her arm moved slowly.  She followed its path as she gently set the glass down on the table in front of the couch.  “That’s strong stuff.”


“For my best clients,” he told her.


“Well, I really appreciate it.  I’ve never really had-“


“You’re avoiding the subject,” he told her.


“No, I’m just enjoying the moment,” she answered.  The ease at which she answered surprised her on one level.  She tried to use the alcohol as an excuse but she simply felt at ease.  “I’m worried that it’ll pass and you’ll go away and I’ll be alone.  I want to enjoy every moment of it while it lasts.”


He tilted his head slightly to watch her while she pushed the glass around with her talon.


“Do you not want it to last?” he asked her.


“Do I have a choice?” she replied, looking up at him.  Their eyes met and her distracted smile faded.


“Before that, you haven’t asked a single question about your condition or the situation surrounding it,” he told her.  She thought she heard a note of exasperation but she doubted herself.  It was Elias, after all.


“Gavin told me to use my head,” she said.  Her left talon raised, bumping against the coffee table until she pressed it into the edge.  Her four toes gripped it lightly.  The anklet slid against the scutes covering her leg, rotating until the symbols faced down.  She reached her wing out to spin it and hold it in place.


“This thing changed me,” she told him, distracting herself with her little game of manual dexterity while she spoke.  “Magic, like Gavin said.  And I guess it’s bad that I have it.  When they broke into my apartment, they didn’t ask me why I bought it but how I was able to buy it.  As if it should’ve been impossible.  The store clerk hesitated to sell it to me.  She asked some weird questions that made me think I didn’t belong in there.  And I sure the hell don’t remember ever seeing the store before.  Nobody noticed me on the streets when they kidnapped me, even though I was naked so if they can hide that, they can hide an entire store. You’re involved.  Oh, and I guess all the strange people that come back here are probably wizards, too.  I saw one in the audience.  So, there’s magic and you keep it away from us.  And I got magic radiation poisoning from being close to you all the time.”


“‘Magic radiation poisoning’,” Elias repeated with the hint of a smile.  “You are entirely too perceptive to be working at a front desk.”


“Well,” she told him while raising her wings.  “I don’t think that’ll be an issue anymore.”


“As far as our current theories go, it’s impossible to expose others to magical energies simply by being around someone with those abilities.  My office is warded heavily.  I checked before I went to the auction.  There’s no leakage.”


“Hah, leakage,” Victoria snorted before blushing and sliding her ass forward on the couch.  


“I think you have the seed of an ability,” he said, nodding to acknowledge her joke.  “The fraction of a fraction of a fraction.  And like a muscle, it was exercised in my presence until it was enough to allow you to see through cheap glamours.  The rest you know.”


“Okay, so, great,” she said.  “How do we undo this?”


“We don’t,” he told her.  The hints of humor were gone from his face.  “The clasp is gone.  It’s bound to you now.  It is you now.  It is permanent.  Or they would’ve undone it and wiped your memory.”


“Well, shit,” Victoria cursed.  Her heart dropped but she forced a smile and reached to grip her cup to take another sip.


“They’re made to bind familiars to mages,” he continued.  “A pact is made and the intended changes, existing as part of our reality as well as a realm beyond.  That connection is passed onto the mage to increase their abilities significantly.  They call it a symbiotic relationship but I call it parasitic.  It changes the familiar on fundamental levels.  Mental and physical changes.  It creates a power dynamic heavily skewed in the mage’s favor.”


“But, if they want it?” she asked.


Like I want you? she thought to herself.  Her body trembled as she glanced his way.  Thinking of her lips against his.  His hands against her.  The discussion was only making it worse as she imagined herself in that position. Bound to him.  His.  She forced herself to look away to continue pushing the glass, unable to even look at him.  Her knee brushed his and she nearly moaned from the contact.


“They don’t always,” Elias sighed.  He slumped ever so slightly against the couch before taking a sip from his drink.  “I’ve known many who force the binding without permission.  They… enjoy it more that way.  The submission it creates.  Seeing their familiar constantly struggling without being able to resist true commands.”


“Well, that is shitty,” Victoria acknowledged.  “But there are crappy people everywhere and, really, is it that terrible if both are willing?”


“No, I-” he paused, frowning as he looked over at her.  “What are you doing, Victoria?”


Oh shit, he said my naaaaame, she thought, shivering when she heard it.  


A clear bead of cum welled from between her pussy lips, gathering another drop before sliding along her slick lips until it latched onto a stray crimson feather.  Her knees opened until their legs touched one more.


“I’m not blind to what you’re trying to say,” he told her.  “I just don’t-“


“You aren’t?” she interrupted, looking back up at him once more.  “Then were you blind to how completely attracted I was to you?  Am.  How completely and utterly smitten I am with you?”


“I’ve- I’ve wondered,” he admitted.


“Well, wonder no more!” she said.  “I tried to ask you out today and flubbed it.  I’ve been trying to ask you out for months.  I have- god!  I have fantasies about you all the time!  And now, now that I’ve finally found the confidence to actually tell you about it, I turn into a fucking biiiiiiird.  I mean, fuck my life, right?”


“The confidence comes from that,” he told her while gesturing towards the anklet.  “As well as the exhibitionism and arousal and-“


“I don’t care where it came from!” she said, slamming her talons into the coffee table.  Wood splintered but she ignored it until she tried to pull them out and the table cracked, breaking in half to spill her drink.


Victoria stared at the table while her mind turned over.  Her chest heaved.


“I don’t care, Elias,” she said, more quietly.  “I’ll take whatever I can get. It’s not fair that it has to be blamed on a piece of jewelry.  I don’t give a damn. I just want you.


“Victoria,” Elias said quietly.


She stared at him, eyes flicking over his face to etch it into her mind.  To look for any hint of affection he might hold for her.  She found it, but not in his eyes.


Victoria reached her right wing down to grip the bottom of the couch.  Her other wing spread open to the arm next to her.  She lifted her leg and spread her toes apart when they curled together.  She kept his gaze while reaching with her foot until she pressed against the bulge in his trousers.


Slowly, as carefully as she could – more carefully and delicate than anything she’d ever tried before, she closed her toes around him.  She stared into his eyes the entire time.  Challenging him.  Waiting for him to ask her to stop.


The anklet slid against the black scutes over her shin when she pulled her foot back.


Stroking him.


She could feel the firmness of his shaft along the bottom of her toes.  His slacks were warm as she pressed her toes into them and her lips parted when she felt the silky touch against her skin between the plating.


“You don’t have to,” he said and she smirked at how breathless he sounded.


“Don’t have to what, Elias?” she asked innocently while raising her other foot.  “Don’t have to let myself indulge in one of the many, many fantasies I’ve had about a man I’ve grown to respect, admire, and lust after?”


“This is-” he started to say.


“I swear to god,” she growled, tensing her foot slightly until the claws dented his trousers.  “I swear to god if you blame this stupid golden bracelet, I’ll- I’ll- Don’t.  Just don’t.  Give this to me.  If you want it, too, then let me have this.”


Her right foot bent.  She reached out, concentrating with her tongue out as she hooked the eye of his slider with the tip of the claw.  His pants unzipped.  She grinned triumphantly while unhooking herself to try his button next.


“I can do it,” he told her.


“I want to try,” she replied, pressing the claw against the back of the button.  She pulled, trying to force it through the loop but it popped off.  “Aw, dammit.”


“Here, let me help,” he said.


She raised her foot again, stopping briefly when her muscles trembled in her thigh.  When they relaxed, she pushed forward to slip the claws beneath the band of his underwear.  Her brow furrowed.  She squinted once more.  Focusing.  The middle toe lifted while the other two stayed in place and she breathed out.


Her foot dragged down.  She moaned when she saw the head of his cock.  Her two toes pressed together, squeezing Elias’ dick carefully while the middle toe curled to rub against him.  And still she pulled, dragging his underwear down while simultaneously caressing his cock until it was completely freed.


With her legs spread, Victoria bent her wing, flexing it until the side of her talon pressed into her clit.  She moaned while rubbing herself but she focused the majority of her attention on Elias.  The motion of her hand frustrated.  Without her wrists, she couldn’t bend her wing enough to do any more than rub her thumb against her clit and lips.


She looked down at herself.  At her glistening clit exposed just beyond its hood.  At the crimson feathers covering her lower belly.  She raised her talon, sliding it against the feathers.  There was the hint of sensation against her thumb but more against her mound.  The downy feathers were shorter than her pubic hair the few times she let them grow out and far softer.  She pushed her talon down, raising the feathers.  They were matted but still so incredibly soft.  The roots of the shafts tugged beneath her skin until her curved black talon touched her clit, making her gasp.  And then she dragged it back, raking through the tiny feathers once more.


“Do you need some help?” Elias asked.  He held his fingers to the side, against the couch but they twitched occasionally.


“No,” Victoria groaned.  Her voice was breathless.  Lustful.


She released his underwear, tearing easily through the band with her claws before turning her foot to press the balls of her feet against Elias’ cock.  He grunted, softly, as she closed her toes around him, pressing the bulbous tips into his veiny shaft.  She wrapped completely around him with her hooked claws curving away from him.


“God,” she whispered, staring as she began to stroke him.  “You’re so hard.  Ngh, and so warm.”

Victoria leaned back further into the couch.  She spread her legs, moving her left foot to place it against Elias’ right hand on the couch.  Her toes gripped his hand carefully while her claws tore into the fabric.  She felt him open his hand, but instead of pushing her away, he spread his fingers until they pressed between her toes.  Her heart sang beneath her chest as they held hands.


Well, hand and foot, she thought to herself.


Her toes dragged the thin skin surrounding his cock, pulling it up and over the flared head of his dick and then down.  She twisted in her seat, rubbing herself back and forth, toying with her feathers and clit to heighten the thrill of her arousal.


The warmth of his cock permeated her thick toes while the softness of the skin was an erotic contrast between the leathery flesh covering her feet.  She writhed as she pumped him and then smiled when she forced him to moan by twisting her foot gently around his cock.  He lay back against the couch, gripping her foot tightly with his fingers and when she pulled down on his cock, he thrust up with a quick little movement.  


“I want you,” Victoria told him.  Her smile faltered and she moaned, loudly while dragging the edge of her talon against her clit.  The soft, downy crimson feathers covering her crotch were soaked from her cum.  “I want to be part of your world.  I don’t care about the rest of- ah- ahhhhh dammit, that feels good.  You feel good.”


Her foot squeezed gently and he groaned.  She dragged her toes up, opening them slightly to release his skin.  Her middle toe caressed the tip of his cock while the other toe pressed together to rub against the side of his head.  He hissed and his fingers gripped the couch tightly.  


Victoria rocked her toes back and forth, moaning while staring at his dick.  She felt wetness touch her skin and she lifted her hips with a happy little gasp when his pre-cum spread over her toes and the tip of his dick.  


“If you- hssssss-” he groaned, closing his eyes.  He exhaled, inhaled a deep breath and exhaled again.  “If you do this.  If we have sex, it binds you.  To me.  As my familiar.  That’s- god- that’s all it takes.  That’s it, Victoria.”


“I don’t care,” she told him, swirling her toes over his head before turning her foot to grip him tightly once more, using his pre-cum as lube to stroke his cock faster with her toes.  “The rest of it means nothing to me as long as I get you.  Even- fuck, oh fuuuuuck- even if you hadn’t saved me.  Even if I wasn’t changed like this.  If you’d told me about it this morning, I’d still do it.  I want.  To be.  WIth you.  Dammit!”


She slapped her talon against her pussy.  She was continuously on the edge of an orgasm that wouldn’t come.  Her thumb wasn’t enough and her arm ached from bending to try.  


“I can’t hold out much longer,” he told her.  He unlaced his fingers from her foot to grab the toes instead.  “That feels- it feels really good, Victoria.”


“Let me be yours,” she begged.  “Just me.  Just Victoria.  Let me be yours.”


“Yes!  I will!” he gasped.


His hand shook against her toes but she released, bringing her left foot around to his right leg.  She gripped him beneath the knee, holding him tight while twisting her right foot around his cock. Her thick toes pulsed around him as she relaxed and tightened her grip.  She worked the entire length of his dick from the base to the very tip while his hands beat against the couch.


Elias surged within her grasp, forcing her toes apart with every thick gout of cum he unleashed.  It splashed against her claws and scutes and the gray skin in between until her foot glistened from it.  


She moaned as she released him.  Strings of white cum dangled between her toes while she brought her foot to her mouth, leaning forward to lick her claws clean, sucking them into her mouth one-by-one while swirling her tongue over their hardened surfaces.  Elias watched her.  He groaned and gripped his dick, pumping while Victoria cleaned herself.


Finally, she lowered her legs to stand, dragging her wings against the ground before raising them to latch onto both sides of the couch where Elias sat.  She raised her right foot to sink into the space behind the cushions.  Her claws tore through the base of the couch until she felt the wood slats beneath.  Her right foot followed on the other side of Elias and she gripped both tightly before slowly lowering herself.  


“Move your hand,” she told Elias, pressing her cheek against his.


The feathers beneath her hair dragged against his skin.  He did as he was told and she pushed down to rub him against her pussy lips.  She squawked loudly until his lips pressed into her nipples, forcing her to gasp.  Their cum mixed as she grinded into him, rocking back and forth.  Teasing herself by letting the head of his dick force her pussy lips apart every time she pushed forward.  Her tongue clicked and her throat vibrated into a rumbling purr.


“Let me,” he told her while bringing his hands around to her ass.


Her tail feathers flexed and waved and spread apart but she shook her head.  And then moaned when he massaged her cheeks.


“I’ve- I’ve- oh god!  I’ve got it!” she told him, finally dipping her hips when she pushed forward.  His head spread her apart.  When she shoved herself down, she screeched with an ear-splitting sound that forced him to cover his ears.


He filled her completely.  To the point where she thought she’d go mad from it.  The arousal built by the anklet surrounded her, mixing with the power forming between them.  She wanted this for so long and now she had it.  And it was better than she could possibly imagine.  Her ass slammed down against him and her tail followed, slapping her ass until it quaked, shoving him even deeper inside.  


When she lifted herself up, he pulled her off completely.


“No!  No, don’t, please!” she begged, trying to force herself back down but he held her tight while sliding beneath her.  “You- you promised.  You promi-oh!”


He reached forward, arms around her to force her to unlatch her talons from the couch.  She did and he lifted her easily when she opened her toes.  Victoria bent her legs when he turned her to lay her on the couch where she’d sat earlier.  


She leaned up to him and he bent down in return, kissing her deeply while grinding his cock into her clit.  The silky feathers gliding against his cock sent shivers down his spine as they traced microscopic barbs against his sensitive, cum-slick skin.  She surrounded him with her wings while wrapping her legs around his thighs, twisting them to lock him in place.  Her feet pulled him down, urging him into her.


Elias guided his cock back into Victoria’s swollen pussy.  She squawked, eyes bulging while pushing up to meet his thrust.  Her feathers shook around him, caressing his body in a way he’d never felt before.  The combination almost sent him over the edge once more until he focused inward.


“Are you mine, Victoria?” he asked her, leaning back to stare into her eyes.


“Yes!  Yes god yes, Elias! Yes!” she gasped, working her hips against his thrusting cock.  She pulled him deeper until it was almost painful but her pussy clenched against him the entire way.


The magic was a storm building around them.  Their hairs stood on end.  Victoria’s throat rumbled into a rough purr once more when he bent down against her.  She wished he was naked so she could feel his skin against her chest but she knew that would come.


Elias pressed deeply into Victoria.  He wrapped his arms beneath her back while pressing his forehead into the mossy green feathers covering the curve of neck.  He grunted.  And groaned.  And trembled.


“Then, be mine,” he told her. 


Victoria’s screech rattled the window.  She bucked while slamming her wings against Elias’ back.  His cock swelled within her and she could feel his cum drilling into her.  For a brief moment, she felt the echo of his own pleasures mixed with hers.  The magic settled over them and into them, binding them together.


“It’s- it’s done,” she gasped, collapsing against her.


Victoria tried to talk but her throat was rough and she wheezed briefly.


“I- I hope not completely done,” she said, finally, laughing before gasping and arching her back.  “Ohhh fuck it’s still going fuck!”


They lay together until Victoria let herself slide from the couch to the floor, pulling Elias with her.  He leaned back but she held him tight, clenching her wings against him.  When he shook his head, she relaxed.


He pulled back and she twisted with a groan after he slipped out.


“What?” she asked shyly when he stared down at her.  


Instead of answering, he reached down to stroke the side of her face.  A small, satisfied smile spread over his face.  She smiled in return.  


“You know,” he said, spreading his fingers to run them through her hair and down, carefully through the feathers beneath them.  “I just hired you because you were pretty and bright and a good distraction for the customers.”


“Oh, this better have a good ending,” she told him while raising her eyebrow.  He stroked the side of her face again and then up, once more into her hair and down.  She turned to his hand, nuzzling against it.


“It was my downfall,” he said.  “I fell for you.”


“Since when?” she asked.


He leaned down to kiss her.  She opened her lips and moaned when his tongue slipped inside.  Her wings slid back and forth against his body until he pulled back.


“Oh, months ago,” he said.  “When we stayed late that week, I think.  Back in November.  There was a moment, late at night where I just watched you work.  You were graceful and beautiful and a joy to be around.  And I thought, if I could ever find someone like you, I’d be a lucky man.”


“You should’ve told me,” she said, searching his eyes.


He kissed her cheek and sat back to run his fingers down her neck.  She trembled when she felt his fingertips tracing a path through the green feathers along her shoulders.


“You’re my employee,” he told her.  “But not anymore, I think.  Not at the front desk.  I’ll have to find someone new to handle the everyday customers.”


“And me?” she asked him while stroking his back lightly.


He sat back with his fingers working at his tie until he pulled it free to fling aside.  Next, he undid the buttons of his shirt until he slipped out of it.  The undershirt followed until his chest was bare.  Victoria cooed at him while pulling him down against her body.  Her nipples rubbed against his skin while he kissed and nibbled at the side of her neck.


“You’ll have to join me in the back,” he told her.  “I’ll have rooms set up for you and you’ll be there when I meet my real clients.  I have so much to teach you.  So much to show you.”


“Rooms?  I don’t need extra rooms,” she said.  “I’ll share yours.”


“Oh, well,” he said, propping himself up on one hand while caressing her face with the other.  “I thought, perhaps, I could build a giant empty room with a perch for you to sleep- ow!”


“Jerk!” Victoria laughed, giggling until he leaned back down to kiss her.  She groaned while sliding her wings along his body to press his ass down.  His semi-hard cock rubbed against her clit and she moaned, twisting while he grew hard once more.


“I’m yours, Victoria,” he told her.


Eyes on her.  Watching her.


“And I’m yours, Elias,” she answered, pulling him into a kiss.  Her voice dropped to a rumbling purr.  “So take me.”

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