Story Preview: Double Bound

Double Bound
A Smuthunter Story


            The beginning of Fall Quarter was always the same for Janelle.

A handful of freshmen would wander into her shop, look around, then wander out and pay too much for their text books at the campus bookstore. This would happen over and over for the first week of the quarter, and even though she would have the editions the students needed for English or Philosophy, or any class that didn’t have a new edition text book every year, it ended up not really mattering in the end.

A little bit of money, a lot of missed opportunities, and a few repeat customers

            They got to campus, they got moved in, then they got their books for classes, or their downloaded them for the Kindles and the Nooks, or pirated PDFs for their lap tops or their phones or tablets. It was just the way it was, but Janelle hadn’t been out of school all that long herself and just couldn’t figure out why or how anyone would want a digital book for classes.

You couldn’t line up the pages to share accurate quote locations, the highlighting feature wasn’t as functional as a highlighter and…

            The door swung inward, clipped the bell above the frame. Janelle smiled at her potential customer and said, “Welcome to Double Bind Books.”

            She smiled.

He had a syllabus in his hand and was staring at it with the same desperate freshman anxiety that everyone had the first time they went to buy books.

            “Hi, um, I’m looking for some books for school.” He was cute and had that vigorous glow that all 18-year-old guys had.

She felt herself smile a charming self-conscious smile as she saw his brown eyes widen slightly as he looked at her.

            He’d noticed her chest.

            That also always happened around this time of year, or anytime she met someone for the first time, or if she was being honest with herself, it just happened most of the time. It was the life of a girl who wore a 368 G bra, and she was pretty used to it.

            “What are you taking?” She leaned forward on the counter cupping her chin in her hands, not to display her ample cleavage that was hidden under a thin black sweater, but to hide it.

            He ran his free hand through this black hair and had to look down at the paper in his hand, “Uh, Intro to Psyche, Math, and Contemporary American Fiction.”

            “Oh, “ she looked over her glasses at him, “You must have been a running start kid.” In some lights her own brown eyes had a hint of a dark violet to them, and her long red hair (which she dyed to make a little more vibrant) tended to accentuate her eyes in just that kind of light as well.

            He took a few more steps into the store and walked around to the front of the counter, “How’d you know?”

 Janelle smiled, “You need English 101 and 102 for most of the fun English classes. Now let me see what you’re looking for.“

He put the syllabus on the counter and she looked down at it, “I have most of these on the shelf, and I think I have the rest in the back somewhere.” She took out a small pad of paper and a pen and started copying the titles down.

“You know, I won’t be able to help you with your psychology text book, but if you have additional readings for that class I probably have what you’re looking for here too.” She was still scribing down the list so she didn’t see his anxious smile, but she heard it in his voice.

“I didn’t bring that syllabus with me, I guess I’ll have to come back with that one too.” She chuckled a little bit, not because his anxiety was funny, but because she knew exactly where he was coming from.

Meeting new people, making good impressions, doing things right, making sure she had everything she needed, it was all a psychological weight she’d learned how to juggle and manage over the years, and Janelle saw the same hesitant traits in him.

“Well, it won’t be an extra trip, like I said, some of these are in back so I’ll have to dig them out for you after I close.” She handed the list back to him and smiled.

“After?” He took a step back as she stepped around the counter, keeping a prescribed sense of personal space. She watched as his eyes dropped to her chest again, and she didn’t blame him. She lived with those breasts, she saw them naked every day, she understood.

“Yup, after. I’m the only one that works here, owner, manager, and sole employee. Hi, I’m Janelle.” She reached her hand out to him the same time she pushed up on the thick black bridge of her glasses.

“Alex. It’s nice to meet you.”

She led him over to the fiction section.

“So, did you get a single bedroom dorm? Or are you stuck with a roommate?” They were going to the beginning of the alphabet

“Hah, no, I, I don’t live on campus.” She could feel his eyes on her, and it was flattering. Her sweater was just baggy enough and her skirt, which was also black, was neither short not tight, but he was still staring. Lots of guys, especially guys his age were boob guys.

She stopped, took a book off the shelf and turned to face him, “But you’re not a local are you? Do you drive in?”

She handed him the book, “No, no, I have my own apartment.”

Janelle bit her tongue for just a second. She’d graduated from college seven years ago, owned her own business, and she still had to live with a roommate. That was when she noticed his watch, his shoes, and then took a closer look at his clothes.

“How’d you swing that?” She didn’t let her surprise get the best of her as they kept walking down the isle.

“Well, this is embarrassing, my parents didn’t really see the point of paying for me to live on campus when they thought I’d take more away from living like an adult.” He was, not some much ashamed by admitting this, but cautious about it.

“No, that makes sense. You can’t learn to cook living of the cafeteria meal plan can you Alex?” She found another book on his list and handed it to him as she spoke.

“No, you can’t.” He’d made eye contact with her when she turned, and there was something in his tone when he agreed that sounded a little soft.

Then she watched him blink, and the seeds of an idea started to take root in her mind.

“Alex, you know, one thing that you may find very helpful with school is not getting too bogged down in just reading for classes. I think you’d probably like to read this book too wouldn’t you, since it’ll help you to let go when you want to relax and take a break won’t you?”

She’d taken a paperback detective thriller off the shelf and put it in his hand as she spoke. It was a favorite of hers, so if her plan worked it wouldn’t be a waste for either of them.

He took it without a word, and his easy acceptance was enough to make that idea start to blossom.

There were only two more books on his list, both that were probably on the shelf, but she led him back to the front instead of exploring further.

“Listen, come back tomorrow and I’ll have those other two available for you too. And don’t forget your other syllabus too. And please tell your classmates about me, tell them that the campus book store is a rip-off.”

He paid with cash.

Alex left with a funny sort of feeling, and when he got back to his place he wondered why he’d also gotten something that wasn’t on his list at all.

It took him a minute to realize she’d given it to him, then he put it down and started on his homework and tried not to think about Janelle the cute bookstore girl.

“Oh good, you’re here before lunch!”

Janelle had started to move around the counter as soon as he walked in. She also unbuttoned her cardigan as she spoke, so by the time they were face to face his eyes were already being pulled down to her considerable cleavage.

She was wearing another long black skirt today, but she was wearing a plunging white V-neck under her dark blue sweater.

She’d only fastened the top buttons to preserve some modesty, but now she needed to test her plan.

“I’m so glad you came in, have you eaten yet? I haven’t had lunch yet, can I ask you something?” She had moved in a little too close to him and had pulled her shoulders back.

“Could you go and pick up my lunch?” She put her hand around his wrist and started to shake while her other hand started to move back and forth in front of his face, or more accurately in front of her breasts. “It would be so helpful, I’m sorry to ask, but you wouldn’t mind helping. It’s across the street, tell the guy at the counter you want Janelle’s sandwich, he’ll take care of you, and thank you. Thank you so much. And get something too since you’re probably hungry.”

Alex walked back in about ten minutes later with two brown bags of food and a puzzled look on his face.

She had buttoned her sweater back up and had moved back behind the counter. “Alex, I’m so sorry, I forgot to give you any money. What do I owe you?”

He smiled, and it was as guileless a smile as she had ever seen. “Don’t worry about it, it wouldn’t have been polite not to.”

“That’s so nice, is it easy for you to be so sweet or does it happen automatically?” She watched him blush, and in a way she could relate. It was taking a lot of personal energy for Janelle to be this extraverted, but it was what her idea required.

“I close the store for half an hour every day right around now so I can eat and have some privacy. Have lunch with me.” She’d lowered her energy and wasn’t trying to shock him anymore. It had worked, two approaches had worked very well, now she was just going to get to know him and see what else she could scout out.

“Well, sure. Yeah, that sounds good.” Alex smiled again and she noticed the way he was trying for eye contact, but if it was held for any length of time she could palpably feel his nerves.

Janelle knew how he felt, and she felt her empathy was part of why things had started to work so well. But, it was too early to be confident, and it was too early for her to even have a clear picture of what she was wanted or what she was really working with.

So, they ate, and they talked, and they had a lot in common. She’d locked the door and led him to the office in back.

“No, I was always a psych major. I knew that was what I wanted to study since I first heard about it. I wanted to know why people are the way they are.”

He was still undecided.

“And it’s true, everyone in upper division psych, and most everyone in the lower divisions is really trying to solve their own mystery. No one really wants to be a therapist, they just want to find a magic bullet for why they’re the way they are.”

She ate between words, and smiled when he laughed at her jokes.

It was hard for Janelle to get a joke to land a lot of the time, she was either too literal or not literal enough and no one every seemed to get it.

“But, I minored in Lit, inherited some money, and then I bought this place because I love books and I needed something I wasn’t going to hate.”

She could read his face, or at least she knew what she would ask if she were him.

“It doesn’t make enough for me to hire someone, and it’s not like I have a boyfriend to help me out.” She made sure to take another bite after that statement so she could also have a moment to gauge his reaction to hearing she was single.

He blushed just a little, and she liked what she saw.

“So most nights when I get home I’m too tired to do anything, so I play some WOW and go to bed.”

“I play too, but I don’t think I’m going to play during the week. I don’t want to… well, you know how it sucks your time. I have too much homework already.”

Janelle laughed to herself in part because she saw his eyes light up when she mentioned the game, and because he was so earnest. They talked gaming as they finished eating, and while he was distracted with the gathering up their garbage she undid the buttons on her sweater again.

“I never asked,” she let her words hang as she waited for Alex to turn around, “do you like reading?”

He looked up from the garbage and she saw his eyes widen just a little, “I…”

She fidgeted slightly with the hemline of her top as he started to speak, just to see how he would respond.

“I do, “ he managed to finish. “Fantasy novels mostly, some sci-fi, but I like swords more than space ships.”

As she spoke she moved to run a hand through her hair and kept eye contact with him. She could feel the way her focus on him was making him feel off balance, and it was just what she was looking for.

She related to that feeling too.

“Me too,” it was true, “there’s something so captivating about those kinds of adventures. I love knights and armor and mysterious witches and quests. I always get so drawn into those books when I read. I just get lost between the pages.”

As she spoke, she pressed her arms in slightly, accentuating the word ‘between’ by pushing her breasts together. Alex’s eyes were shifting from her own down to her chest and back up again.

“Anyway,“ she stretched her arms over her head and arched her back to stretch, and in so doing, thrust her chest out towards him, “don’t you just love getting lost in a good book?”

“I mean,“ she leaned towards him as thought she were reaching for something on the desk and not just giving him the best view of her breasts so far, “you do let yourself get lost sometimes don’t you? Like playing a video game and the time starts to disappear, just like you were saying earlier, focused on the moment, forgetting about everything else, and you know that feeling, it’s so relaxing when you can get lost in something, like the pages of a book, lost between two pages, not realizing you’re turning the pages over, floating in the curves of the pages, waiting for the next word to come, going and on and on, back and forth until your eyes have to close, falling asleep between the pages, falling asleep now.”

She watched him as his eyes grew glassy and soft.

She watched him as he stared down into her cleavage, transfixed by it, enthralled by the gentle allusions to her chest that she hid in her choice of words.

She saw him take the bait without even realizing he was being lured, and she watched as his eyes drifted closed as he started to sway back and forth on his feet.

“It’s good to get lost in things isn’t Alex?” She moved over to take his hand in hers. She brought it up to her chest and held it there as she spoke to him in the softest most seductive voice she knew he had ever or could ever hear.

“It’s good to let go and lose yourself, especially when there’s so much in your life that needs your strength, especially when you have to use your will power for so much else.”

She slide his hand down slightly and held it with both of her hands, squeezing it, simulating the act of him grabbing her breast himself. “You’re so free here, so relaxed, and so lost in the moment, sleeping with me, trusting me enough to sleep with me already, and it feels wonderful to spend time with me, feeling so trusting and open, so wonderfully close to me that you can already sleep with me, deep sleep. And I like you so much, I like watching you sleep, I like how much close we are already, you’re so wonderful and I see it in you, I wish there was a way you could spend more time with me.”

She knew he was more dazed and disoriented than wholly enthralled, and that was part of her plan. Using the word sleep, disguising what she was doing in the folds of him taking a nap, was all part of a very practical system, one that worked clinically, and was working now.

She let the question, or plea, whatever his mind would take it as, hang there for just a moment before she continued.

“You’re so busy with school, and I’m so busy with work, but you’ll need something to do to take your mind off of classes, and you’d like to spend that time the best way you can, and you can spend it with me here, and it’s such a wonderful idea, like something that’s coming to you in a dream. It’s a wonderful idea and you can come to help me because you like me too, you can come and help me here at the store because you want to help me and you know I would really appreciate that. You can come here tomorrow and I’ll show you how you can help me, doesn’t that sound good?”

She’d moved his hand under one of her breasts so he could feel the heft of one of them, and she’d trapped his hand there until her final question. Then she just let it drop as he nodded.

“Alex, “ she snapped her fingers and took on a faux concerned tone, “Alex, hey.”

He opened his eyes.

She wasn’t anywhere close to him and her sweater was buttoned up again.

“You look beat. We were just talking and you fell asleep on your feet.”

Janelle suppressed her desire to smile when she watched him blink and shake his head as he tried to figure out what had just happened.

“I’m sorry. I, wow, I… what were we talking about?”

He leaned up against the wall to keep his balance and regain his bearings.

“You were saying you’d like to help me out here at the shop a couple days a week. I told you it would be volunteer only, but…”

He laughed a little, he felt strangely more disoriented with every passing moment and he tried to figure out why he would say that.

“Well, yeah. I, well, uh…” She smiled as he looked into her eyes. ‘That makes sense since I can get credits for it… I think, or I’m supposed to do a certain number of hours or something?”

Things at the college hadn’t changed since she went there, and she’d chosen her words carefully to prompt his mind to reach that conclusion, burying the suggestion she’d given him.

They walked to the front and she unlocked the store’s entrance and took down the ‘out to lunch sign’. They talked for another hour or so, sharing favorite books and movies, and slowly easing into the comfort of shared tastes and interests.

Finally, when Alex realized he had to get going, Janelle had mentioned homework, he almost left without the books he’d come for.

“I know you’ll be back tomorrow,” she’d ducked out from behind the counter to pull out one of the two she’d stored up there, and when she was out of sight she unbuttoned her sweater again, “but you shouldn’t leave without this.”

He turned, and again his eyes were drawn to her chest, his laugh was small and self effacing as he walked back away from the entrance, “Hah, yeah, you’re right.”

“I’ll have to get your help to dig the other one out of the back, “ she leaned forward again in just the right manner to fill his vision with the swell of her breasts, “but we can look forward to that can’t we?”

He nodded.

“Also, if you liked any of those books I was talking about, you can find them in the sci-fi/fantasy section now, if you’d like to get lost in something tonight.”

He froze up just a little, imperceptibly straightening his back like a flash of inspiration or memory, or arousal had just coursed though his body.

“That’s a good idea.”

She smiled, “I know.”

He walked back onto the floor and came back shortly with a small armful of suggested titles, his head full of a handful of suggestions he didn’t realize he was following.

“Do you take cards here?”

She’d buttoned up again while he was gone. “We do, with an ID.”

He handed her an American Express Platinum and his ID. The card was in his name, and she was pretty sure his watch was worth several months of her rent.

“See you tomorrow Alex, and thanks again!”

“Bye Janelle.”

She was pretty certain he’d be seeing her in his dreams tonight, or in his imagination before he went to sleep.

When he was gone she let out a sigh.

Being the dominant one, the outgoing and extroverted one was exhausting.

But again, she knew she had to be that way for this to work. She knew she had to fill in the spaces in his personality just as much as she had to appeal to his young and hungry sexual desires, all while gauging and playing on the particulars of his suggestibility and his susceptibility to different approaches to hypnotic trance.

Her senior thesis had been on hypnosis and it had been a life-long fascination of hers, but this was the first time she’d ever tried to use her knowledge and her abilities in a less than scrupulous way.

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