By Chris Leigh

“Babe, are you about ready?”

She has been in the bathroom for what seems like an hour. It’s more likely that she’s been there only three or four minutes, seven at the outside, but he’s impatient. He’s also naked and lying on the bed.

“Just a second more, lover.”

What could she be doing in there? How long does it take to put in an IUD or a diaphragm or whatever she’s using? And it isn’t as if he particularly cares whether they’re safe tonight. Next week, he’ll move, and there’s no chance in hell he’s going to let her know where. He hasn’t even told her he’s going. There’s no telling how she’d react. Badly, he thinks. She’d probably cry and plead. She might even try to follow him, and wouldn’t that be disaster? She’s been hinting recently as if she suspects, but he’s assured her that he’s not going anywhere, and he thinks she believes him. He’s almost positive she bought it when he told her wild horses couldn’t drag him away from her. Wasn’t that what women wanted to hear? But he knows he’ll be gone soon, and there’s no need for them to be safe tonight. They’ve talked about the what-if of pregnancy, and he knows she’d get an abortion without a second thought rather than let her husband know. They were careful at first, but that was when he cared for her. Then, she’d yet to become the pain in the ass she is now. So if she gets pregnant tonight, it’s not going to cause him any great worry.

He hears something drop inside the bathroom and thinks that maybe he’d rather be at a bar tossing back a few. She’s nothing more than a lay tonight, and if it weren’t for the fact that she’s the kinkiest woman he’s ever known, he’d get dressed and head out. But there’s her small box of toys beside him on the bed, and he’s eager to explore them and have them explore him. He’ll just close his eyes and think of someone he’d rather be with. Tonight, that includes about half the world. The female half, of course.

Somewhere inside him, a spark, nearly suffocated, remains, and it reminds him that he once cared for her. But that was so long ago, when the sex was exciting because of its newness and when he did not know her as he does now. That was before her husband discovered the e-mails. What a mess that was, he thinks. He does not know the husband, but she has told him enough to let him know he doesn’t want that particular pleasure. Violent, she said. Insanely jealous, too. Thank God he had the foresight to use a free e-mail account that couldn’t be traced. Still, before the events of earlier this month made it clear that he would soon be moving, he thought of every way possible to get out of this infernal relationship. He even considered killing her, and he might have gone that far, too, if she hadn’t told him their first time that she had confided in a girlfriend so that he would be caught if she didn’t return. That was back when he couldn’t even have imagined any homicidal thoughts.

Another sound comes from the bathroom. He can’t identify it, but she calls out and says she’ll be with him in just one more minute. He can be dressed and at the bar in about five minutes, he thinks. He saw a bar on the corner across the street and half a block down from the cheap motel. He is about to act on that thought when he remembers the handcuffs and he thinks of one particular e-mail in which she detailed a particular fantasy she has. That e-mail, saved on his computer, has already brought him more than one orgasm, and he wants just one more, this time when he isn’t alone. So, okay, he’ll stay for the sex and then leave. He’d rather have the other fantasy she shared with him, but it’s just the two of them tonight, so he’ll make do with this one.

“Ready, lover,” she calls, and the bathroom door opens. “Turn off the light.”

It is another reason to leave. Just once, he’d like to make love-no, forget that, screw-in the light. But he knows from experience what to do. He reaches over and turns off the light. A moment later, he feels her weight as she puts a knee onto the bed. He sees her form in outline. What used to be attractively plump is now almost repulsive. She’s not obese by any stretch, but she’s, well, fat, he thinks. And there’s something else, he notices. She’s . . . shiny.

She seems to notice his confusion. “Do you like it, lover? It’s a full body suit. Polyurethane, I think.”

“Full body?”

“Oh, don’t worry. There are zippers where we need them. Now roll over.”

She doesn’t have to repeat the request. Even in the darkness, he thinks it will be easier to think of someone more attractive if he is facing down. He rolls over and extends his hands when she asks him. When she grips her wrist and clicks the handcuff on him, he feels first that she is even wearing the polyurethane (or whatever it is) on her hands and then that the handcuff is padded. Almost before he knows it, he is securely attached to the headboard.

“Want me on my knees?” he asks.

“That won’t be necessary,” she says.

As she is speaking, he feels a sharp prick on his exposed buttock. He is trying to figure out what it is when he notices a pressure in the same region, and now he is wondering about that, too. She is speaking, and it takes him a moment to register the words.

“Really. I am sorry, but I don’t know what to do. Frank found out, and I know he’d kill us both if he ever found proof. So, you see, this is really self-defense. I wish there were another way, but I can’t think of one. If only you didn’t live here or would move or something, there might be another way. I tried to tell you, tried to convince you.”

And, suddenly, he gets it. The body suit, the gloves, the sensation, which he now recognizes as the prick of a syringe. He wonders what exactly she injected, but he knows she’s a nurse. It could be anything, and he suspects it would have a complicated name he wouldn’t understand. Tell her! his brain screams. Tell her you’re going to move!

But his mouth seems not to work, and he is beginning to lose consciousness.

“I’m really sorry, lover,” she says, “but you really always were just a lay.”