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I preferred getting to work before everyone else on Monday morning—to have a calm start to the week and the front office to myself. The morning air was cool on my face and my daily cup of coffee was still blisteringly hot thanks to the miracle of the Contigo. The contrast was bracing and just how I enjoyed starting my week.
My riding boots had been polished over the weekend—as they were every other Sunday—and the heels crunched satisfyingly on the asphalt of the car park. The air was cool under my skirt—on the few inches of flesh my stockings didn’t cover, but I liked the sensuality of this and savoured it.
I flexed my leather gloves to enjoy their creak—also cleaned at the weekend—took a long swig of hot, hot coffee and inhaled cold, cold air as deeply as possible, luxuriating in the sensations.
A friend said it was like I was having sex with my internal organs.
I’d pointed out at least I used more than just three percent of the squidgiest flesh on my person to engage with life.
At least I knew I was alive for large portions of my day.
Walking past the few cars of the officers on overnight in the car park, something was different… What was it? There was a car in the Governor’s spot. It’d been three months since Erica Davidson had left. I slowed.
That wasn’t Mighty Mouse’s car in the Governor’s spot. She’d never have the nerve or funds to purchase something that… sexy.
Something that exuded that level of dominance.
It was nice to see the new Governor here before I was. It was nice to see we had a new Governor… I suppose.
Three months without anyone in charge and finally someone arrives without warning.
No one tells me anything.
I made my way up to the building and through security, surreptitiously looking for a sign of the new leadership.
I’d thought it’d be Mighty Mouse’s turn after Erica left. No one told us why she left—why would they. Staff aren’t important. I was only her secretary.
Sorry. Administrative assistant. I prefer ‘secretary’, though, as it has certain connotations I’m partial to. Though I wasn’t interested in Governor Davidson that way. She was far too lax, for one. Didn’t even wear the uniform.
Meg Jackson was more like it. I was genuinely upset when she died. Though fooling around in her office with Officer Jackson wasn’t exactly professional… Married or not.
But I digress.
I’ve been the Governor’s Secretary longer than Vera Bennett has been at Wentworth and I genuinely do not know why or how she’s become Deputy Governor. There are dozens of officers and this is the best they’ve got?
Following rules and waiting your turn pays off, I suppose.
Slimy Miles (I know she’s up to something, though I don’t know what) is smarter and Officer Jackson has more integrity.
I appreciate and respect hierarchy, though, and wouldn’t call her Mighty Mouse to her face, of course.
Besides, I know where all the fire exits are in case she accidentally burns down the building tripping over her imaginary boyfriend.
All the way to my desk and not a sign of the new Governor. Blast. To the staff room to rinse my mug.
Governor Davidson left—a bit too chummy with that Doyle person and the less said about her decoration of the Governor’s office, the better—and I thought, ‘Well, Gavin, break out the booster seat. Do they make booster seats for Governors’ chairs?’
At least she’d follow the rules. Rules are good.
Then that walking penis Channing began to interfere (because of course he did) and I found myself hoping she’d get it. Otherwise it’d be some man following his orders. So I’d be following Channing’s orders in effect.
I don’t do what entitled dicks want.
Suddenly I felt protective of Mighty Mouse.
And I’ve never hated the walking penis more for it.
I vowed to take that mouldable, spineless child and turn her into a paragon of leadership—if only Channing hadn’t engaged his own Puppetry of the Penis. Please, please.
Back to my desk for my Monday routine—first, make sure IT is on setting up the Governor’s logins and clearance and so on while I wait to see… Sniff. Fresh paint.
They’ve repainted the Governor’s office. The blinds are closed, but the door is open.
A quick look won’t hurt.
Holy Hell. Look at that organisation. Not a fingerprint.
I refuse to be even remotely enamoured with a man.
Business cards. Yoink!
Research skills activate!
Oh! Awards! She’s won awards.
And a dignified colour scheme like an actual adult. I bet she wears the uniform like a person who takes the job seriously.
Rooted to the spot by the perfection of her office—when had she put it together. She must have come in over the weekend so it would be set up for her work week.
I sighed out loud and caught myself. Peering back through her door—I still had the front office to myself.
Constance. You cannot take a photo of the Governor’s desk. Get a grip.
It is weird she’d choose yellow pencils over grey or black ones. Doesn’t match the colour scheme at all. But look how neatly they’re arranged.
And so sharp. You could put an eye out with those.
My phone rings and I jump. Then return to my desk.
‘Governor Ferguson’s office.’
‘Connie!’ The smarm oozes out of the receiver and I resist the urge to wipe my cheek.
I’ve told him I hate being called that 900 times.
Faultlessly polite, though, that’s me. ’Yes, Mr Channing?’
‘I need your help with something.’
Once Channing was done I put down my desk phone, retrieved my bag and went to the ladies’ room. It wouldn’t do to be caught stalking the new Governor on my personal phone at my desk.
Ensconce myself in a cubicle. Turn on the VPN on my phone and let’s see what we can find.
This woman doesn’t exist online. She’s not stupid, I’ll give her that.
I’d got some information from the human phallus under the guise of stupidity, ‘Well, they must have come up with quite the corker for giving her the job—if your person was so much better, I mean.’
He managed to make it sound like getting all the drugs out of her previous prison was nothing and the board were looking for any excuse to hire someone other than his candidate.
I pretended this was obvious.
Send a message to a friend at her previous prison: Going to next week’s munch? We should chat.
Nothing to see here. Tra la la.
The main door to the toilets opened… I held my breath… Oh. One of the other assistants. Was it that late? I’d allowed myself to get so distracted by the new Governor I was behind schedule. I hated that.
After availing myself of the facilities, I washed my hands, watching the door in the mirror.
Clearing a prison of drugs was the work of a miracle worker.
But I prided myself on my lack of curiosity. It was one of the less attractive traits that got in the way of being the person I wanted to be and I’d worked to eradicate it over the previous several years.
What had got into me today?
Everything I needed to know would be provided in time. Deep breath. Right. Straighten my waistcoat in the mirror, smooth my skirt. Make sure my bob is neat and parted correctly.
* * *
Shift change with its influx of officers and staff, breakfast for the inmates and the prison fell into the routine of the week.
I’d refocused on what I needed to do (surprisingly Governor’s Secretaries still have admin even when there’s no actual Governor) and was back on schedule when all of the officers on duty came trooping past my desk.
Before I could stop anyone I looked in—at some point the new Governor had walked right past me… how had I not heard her shoes?
She was tall.
I shifted my chair to ‘stretch’ and observe her as she spoke to the officers.
Intentionally imposing. The bun was a nice touch. There were things she could do to soften her appearance, but she’d chosen not to—interesting decision. She was aware of her physical attributes and used them to her advantage. Brave.
Closed body language—not interested in anyone else’s opinion—knows her own mind. Actual dominance—not performance. Calm, not shouting. Still, not pacing. Confident in her abilities.
All signs point to yes, ma’am.
My desk was just outside her office, but the door was shut and her voice wasn’t raised. They were listening intently, whatever she was saying. Submissive postures everywhere, as it should be.
Back to work. I knew enough for the moment.
I knew I needed to have a conversation with her, too.
What was the best way to ask? With Erica I’d just grab her and talk to her—with Governor Jackson I’d schedule it into her calendar myself.
This felt like approaching a Domme for the first time.
I glanced back through the window.
No. Some people are just naturally dominant and it has nothing to do with …
Still… the concept is the same as learning a new Dominant’s preferences. Be respectful and just ask how she’d prefer you make appointments. Decent people respect respect, as well as those who know themselves and stand up for what they want.
Piece of cake.
Piece of very tall, very dominant cake.
The door opened and everyone filed out as the announcement for work duty began.
Governor Ferguson followed the others—clearly on a mission.
She’ll eat Mighty Mouse in one bite. That’ll be hilarious to watch.
My mouth went dry. I have to sit alone with this person and have a conversation.
But not today, so much. Today was her first day and she’s busy. Busy, busy woman.
Great day, when was the last time you were nervous around a dominant woman? When she wasn’t holding something from the Inquisition, I mean.
‘Constance? Are you all right?’
Katie—another office worker—was observing me and I realised my face was screwed up and I was staring at the ceiling in confusion.
I shook myself, ‘Yeah, I was just wondering… do you know where everyone was going just then? They seemed to be in a group.’
‘I heard there was a tip on some drugs coming in.’
‘Ah. Good.’ I nodded. There’s no way that question would account for my looking at the ceiling tiles like they opened up to a parallel dimension, but I focused on my keyboard and began practising requests for a quick chat with Governor Ferguson.
The phone went.
‘Governor Ferguson’s office.’ My voice was too high and loud and the others glanced at me. Get. A. Grip.
‘What’s going on?’
‘The building’s burned to the ground and the women have gone feral.’ I knew him well enough to know he’d just made that “is that supposed to be funny” face. ‘I apologise. It’s a hectic day and I haven’t even met the woman yet. It’s just…’ I cast about for an excuse, ‘Monday.’
He snorted. ‘That’s funny. You don’t seem like the sort of person who has Mondays.’
‘What does that mean, Mr Channing?’
‘Just… you’re always the same. Reliable. Stable. There. I know you’ll do the right thing. You’re a good girl. I’ll talk to you later.’
I put the receiver down with white knuckles. I would grab the fistfuls of foreskin that must be around his shoulders, pull it up over his head and suffocate him with it.
The thing about reliable, stable people is that we’re invisible. We’re non-human. It doesn’t occur to other people that we may, indeed, be harbouring all sorts of secrets. How do you think we remain so stable and reliable?
And, oh yes, I was a good girl, all right. But not for fucking Channing.
I opened an email:
Welcome to Wentworth Correctional Centre. I look forward to serving as your personal secretary. If we could have a word at your earliest convenience, I need to know your preferences on various protocol, as well as guidance on particular sensitive issues. Your time is precious and I’ll be brief.
‘Yes?’ My face was tight. I consciously relaxed all of the muscles in my face and looked at Katie.
‘You just told Mr Channing you hadn’t met the Governor yet.’
‘That is correct, I have not.’
‘How’d you know her name? When you answered the phone—you answered it Governor Ferguson’s office.’
I barked a laugh that sounded half hysterical and the other people in the front office jumped. Holding my hands up, palms out, in an apologetic gesture I said, ‘Sorry. I have a new boss that I didn’t know about until just this morning. And all of you know how I like to have things scheduled…’
Sam, who sat across from me chuckled, ‘Months in advance.’
I nodded and exhaled a laugh, ‘Yes.’ A plausible answer occurred to me, ‘When I got in today, Channing called and told me the new Governor’s name. So I wouldn’t be utterly at a loss.’
Everyone accepted this. Now I remembered why I didn’t usually snoop. I hated lying.
And I usually didn’t find anyone intriguing enough to want to go through their things.
What was so damn special about this woman?
‘You needed my guidance on something, Miss Gavin?’
Governor Ferguson was standing over my desk, having apparently materialised there. I prided myself on the ability to focus on work to the exclusion of all else, but, really. She seemed unmissable. Whatever cloaking device she employed was top-notch.
‘Yes, Governor.’ I checked my facial expression—it had remained it’s usual impassive self, thankfully—and followed her open-handed gesture into her office.
Her voice was silky behind me, ’I’m afraid I don’t have much time. Have a seat, though.’ The sound of the door shutting me and she crossed around to her side of the desk. She unbuttoned the bottom button of her uniform jacket before sitting down. Meg Jackson had done the same—a necessity of wearing the uniform—but the way the new Governor did it… it was like she was showing her jacket who was boss.
We were alone.
She gave a professional smile.
Speak! ’Yes, of course. I don’t intend to take much of your time today, Governor. I’ll email a list of things I’ll need your preferences on—how to handle scheduling—if you’ll want coffee or tea in the mornings and, if so, how. If you prefer specific office supplies and if you’d rather place orders with me when you need them or if I should check your desk…’
‘I’ll let you know when I need anything.’
‘Right. Well, I’ll send the list of everything and you can return it with your desires… preferences in your own time.’
She had very dark eyes. Were they black? No… velvety brown.
‘That’s very efficient of you.’ She adjusted her notebook a few centimetres to her left. ‘I was under the impression there was something urgent you needed my input on, Miss Gavin.’
I’ve irritated her.
‘You got all of the drugs out of your previous prison. That’s impressive.’ In a monotone, with no breaks for air.
She blinked, surprised at the conversational turn. ‘Yes.’ Her face softened. ‘It was what was best for the women.’
I cleared my throat. Here goes. ‘This morning, Derek Channing called me.’
Governor Ferguson snorted, leaned back in her chair and crossed her arms. ‘Oh yes.’
‘He wants information about you. How you’re running the prison.’
She raised an eyebrow. Oh my god, her eyebrows were art. They couldn’t be natural.
‘And are you going to tell him how I’m running the prison?’
‘I’ll tell him whatever you want me to tell him.’
Amusement then suspicion played across her features. ‘Why?’
‘First: He’s a misogynist. I’ve been dealing with him for several years and he treats women like they’re here for his entertainment. Second, he is the human embodiment of the male member. Which may explain his attitude towards women, upon consideration. He clearly thinks a man should be in charge here—preferably a man of his choosing. I’m guessing someone he could manipulate.’
When she smiled, a half-dimple appeared on her left cheek. Outstanding.
‘You’re taking quite the chance telling me all this.’
The room began to spin—she wasn’t wrong. ‘He wants you out without having seen what you can do here.’
She leaned forward and folded her hands (elegant!) on her desk. ‘What do you think I can do here?’
‘I don’t know. I do know, however, that getting drugs out of prison is nearly impossible, and governors don’t usually even try. For various reasons. For you to care about the women that much—and to accomplish it—speaks volumes to your commitment and determination. Or your connection to dark forces. One of those. I’d like to find out, either way.’
Please let her find that funny.
She observed me steadily for a long moment then exhaled a puff of air from her nose and leaned further forward conspiratorially, ‘There may have been a goat sacrifice involved.’ She winked. Resuming her previous posture she asked, ‘Why do you think governors don’t usually try to get drugs out of prison?’ To my confused expression she explained, ‘You seem to have considered this. I want to hear your thoughts.’
‘Some are too lazy—it’s hard. Administration has to deal with a thousand things and the women have all the time in the world to think of new ways to get drugs in, make weapons and … sex toys. Administration just does’t have the same amount of time.’
That got a genuine, head thrown back laugh. It was like winning the lottery. She nodded, ‘I appreciate your candour. Go on.’
‘High women are easier to manage. Women are notoriously more difficult as prisoners than men—if they’re focused on their drugs; whether it’s doing them or selling them or getting them in, it gives them something to do and they’re not pestering the officers. It’s another way of being lazy, though a more cynical way. And, finally, some do their best—Governor Jackson and Erica—they tried, but there’s a sort of “It’s going to happen so we just have to deal with it when it does.”’
She narrowed her eyes, ‘Were you an officer once?’ She gestured between us, ‘Generally office staff doesn’t deal in the philosophy of criminal justice.’
I looked at my hands, ’No.’ Matter-of-factly, ‘My sister has been in and out of prison since I was seven. Mostly in.’ I looked up at her.
She nodded, ‘Ah.’
‘We exchanged letters when she was incarcerated and I visited her sometimes when I was younger—if she was close enough. Her experiences were…instructive. I became interested in criminal justice and criminal psychology very early.’
‘Have you considered working in the prison service?’
Ah yes. The inevitable “you’re not working up to your potential” conversation. Story of my life.
‘I prefer to do what I’m best at.’
‘Being indispensable to a highly capable person. I find it incredibly satisfying. Learning all of their needs and wants and being useful to that person. The person has to be a quality individual, though. The sort who can get the drugs out of a prison, for example. I believe that a qualified assistant who takes pride in their abilities is a credit to the person they work for and can improve that individual’s ability to do their job as well as increase the joy they get from their job.’
The corners of her mouth curled, ‘And if Derek Channing put someone in the Governorship you’d be making his life easier.’
I inhaled deeply, staving off nausea, and nodded.
She nodded, ‘Then it will be a pleasure working with you, Miss Gavin. May I call you Constance?’
‘Please. Thank you, Governor.’
[Section II: Trust Issues (Chapter Four: Embrace the Pain) begins here]