“Wait, what?” said Sofia. “Be the rope demo? I don’t know about that – hang on.”
“Oh, don’t worry about it,” said Mandy, “Let’s go sit down before we miss the whole thing.” There were several seats in the front row filled with bags and blankets and Mandy cleared a couple of them so she and Sofia could sit. The audience was very quiet, Master Lucas was doing some elaborate rope work on a woman with her hands behind her back. It was lovely to watch.
And it stirred some memories for Sofia. The feeling of rope on her skin, sometimes soft and sensual, sometimes coarse and rough. The intensity of being able to let go, to allow herself to be bound and constrained. She sighed.
And then it was over. Applause from the audience, and Master Lucas began slowly untying the woman, taking his time, with the same care he had used when he was binding her. Sofia watched, lost in her own memories.
At last, Master Lucas was finished, wrapping the woman in a blanket, he led her to a seat and talked with her for a minute. Then he approached Mandy and Sofia.
He smiled at Sofia, nodded to Mandy. “I’m about ready for you,” he said. “This is going to be my last demo tonight. Although – Sofia, would you be interested in being my model instead of Mandy? Mandy’s done this a million times and if you like rope at all, you might enjoy it.”
Mandy said, “That’s what I told her! I told her she could do it instead of me!”
Sofia felt like a deer in the headlights under Lucas’ gaze, and Mandy’s enthusiasm didn’t help. She was about to say no, thanks, but stopped herself. Wait a minute. She was here What the hell. Why shouldn’t she do it? And quite suddenly, she couldn’t see any reason not to do it.
“I am a grown ass woman,” she thought to herself, and almost giggled. “I don’t have to answer to anybody. I can do any damn thing I want to do.” And she looked directly at Lucas and said, “Yes. Thank you, I think I’d love to. If you’re sure you want to use me.”
She could have bit her tongue for that choice of words, she didn’t mean “use me” damnit, but it was too late to take that back. And his gaze was serious as he said, “I’d be honored to have you be my demo model. We’ll need to talk a few minutes first.”
Taking her hand, he led her onto the stage. “Folks,” he called out, “We’re going to be about 5 minutes before the next demo, so just relax. Get some water. Talk to your neighbors. We’ll be back.”
Turning to Sofia, he said, “Are you nervous?’
“A little bit,” she nodded.
“That’s ok,” he said. He was still holding one of her hands, now he took the other one. “I’m going to ask you some questions, ok?”
She nodded, but he said, “Is that yes?” and she said, “Yes,” just stopping herself from adding, Sir at the end. He went on, “I need you to use words, please, it’s really important that I understand your answers. Does that work for you?”
She nodded and then laughed, adding, “Yes, yes it does.”
“Good.” He was standing fairly close to her, and all of her attention was on him. He began a series of questions, pausing each time for her response.
“Have you had experience with bondage before? Yes? Would you say it was a good experience, did you enjoy it? Ok, good. Was there anything about it that you didn’t like? Ok.”
“Now I’m going to ask you some questions about your health. Do you have any medical conditions I should be aware of? Any physical discomfort or pain? Are there any areas of your body that you prefer not to be touched? Any areas that you don’t want restrained?”
As she answered “no,” to each of the medical questions, she felt as if he were wrapping her in a blanket of care. “This is just routine,” she reminded herself, “it’s not personal, he’s just going through the list of things you’re supposed to ask.” But it felt intensely personal.
“Let’s talk about what kind of tie I’m going to do. I can do a simple top halter, or I can do a full body harness. It’s totally up to you. I don’t want to restrain your arms since we haven’t played before. If you want to leave your dress on we’ll do a star halter, or you can take your dress off and we’ll do a full body harness. I have some new rope that would be perfect for that.”
He turned away from her for a moment, letting go of one hand, and picked up a hank of rope, neatly wound. It was purple. “This is new,” he said, “I just finished treating it this week. Soft,” he said, pulling one end of it free so she could feel it. “It’s jute,” he said, “I really like working with jute, although I use hemp rope too.”
Sofia smiled, his explanations about the type of rope was endearing. She loved it when people were really interested in all the aspects of what they were doing.
“But it’s up to you,” he said, and she brought her mind back, “Whether you want to keep your dress on or not.”
And Sofia’s heart missed several beats, “oh, shit,” she thought. “My dress. On. Or off. Omg, how did I miss that question? Stupid rope, got me all worked up. Off or on.”
Lucas waited patiently.
And Sofia was just about to say “on, I’ll keep it on,” when she remembered Eleanor Roosevelt and her words about facing fear, doing one thing every day that scares you, and May Sarton and Terry Tempest Williams talking about adventure and living with gusto, daring to do the thing. Even Brene Brown. Even frigging Brene Brown would tell her to go for it.
So she smiled, just a little smile, and looked directly into his eyes as she said, “I’ll take my dress off.”