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All Tied Up...


When Peyton left the adult entertainment store with the black bondage ropes, she was concerned that they looked a little too… professional. She and Scotty had been together since day one of Freshmen orientation and had been inseparable throughout all four years of college. She wasn’t sure if it was their duel anxieties about graduation but things hadn’t been the same between them all semester. He planned to spend a year working for his uncle as a deep sea fisherman in Bermuda and she was applying to Teach For America all the way out in Alaska. They’d danced around the subject of their future together but neither had broached the conversation. They’d been awkward around each other and things had definitely gotten stale in the bedroom. All of this is why, while reading the latest issue of Cosmo, on a Southern college campus in 1999, Peyton got the idea to spice things up in the bedroom.

She talked her three roommates into making the hour and a half drive out of the city to one of those “Romance” stores on the side of the interstate. The reasoning behind this was that the place was sure to have a better selection than the shop in town and also, well, they sure as hell didn’t want to bump into anyone they knew. When they turned off of Exit 47, following their printed-out Map Quest directions to a dusty warehouse plastered with vinyl photos of Playboy Bunnies, Peyton felt legitimately uncomfortable. What was she even doing? Was the problem with Scotty their sex life? Or was it something else she couldn’t place. Of course she would end up with him… right? Her roommates interrupted her inner monologue by pushing her through the tinted doors before she could come up with a meaningful answer.

The place was huge. There were probably ten thousand DVDs stack across a wall with photos that made Peyton immediately blush. A section to the left was filled with so many blow up dolls it looked like an alien house party, and the lingerie department was a satin and lace disaster. None of this was her style. She wanted to “spice things up,” like Cosmopolitan had suggested, but all of this seemed ridiculous.

“Oh my god, I bet Scotty would love this!” Lisa, her least-sober roommate held up a French Maid costume. The sight of it made Peyton shudder.

“Maybe this was a mistake.” Peyton made a face, gesturing to the racks of scarily-sized appendages, “I’m not wearing one of these costumes, I’m not watching any of these videos, and if I look at those dolls one more time, I’m going to have nightmares until I’m thirty.”

Lisa grabbed a shopping basket and placed the Maid costume right in it, “you’re being uptight. Maybe that’s the problem,” Peyton gritted her teeth and scrunched her nose against the offensive smell of imitation vanilla that seemed to be pumping through the air ducts. Betts, her closest friend of the group, put her arm around her.

“We know that’s not the problem. Even Lisa knows its not the problem. We’ll find you something.”

Peyton and Betts linked arms and purposefully walked through the ginormous warehouse meant to serve every kink imaginable. The walked past the section with the neon toys, peeked in the area with the remote-controlled ones, and then stopped to stare wide-eyed at the glass ones. Finally, they came upon the bondage section. Betts went right in.

“This could be fun. It’s not too weird,” Peyton agreed.

“Ok, cool, I’ll get some handcuffs and we’ll get out of here? And hit a Whataburger on the ride back?” Peyton grabbed some silver-plastic cuffs from the hook and was ready to make a mad dash to the register.

Before Betts could whole-heartedly agree with the plan, the girls were interrupted by a tall, thin woman painted in aggressively Goth makeup.

“You don’t want those,” she deadpanned. Peyton looked at her merchandise. Why didn’t she want these? Were they some sort of sex-toy gateway drug that would land her on the cover of one of those terrifying DVDs within the next six months? Did they have a secret locking mechanism? Were they too - Peyton’s mind was interrupted again-

“Lame. Those are super lame. They’ll break in two seconds.”

Peyton looked at Betts who rolled her eyes, coming to her friend’s defense, “She’s happy with these. She’s getting these.”

“Okayyyyyy.” Morticia was basically speaking out her her nasal passages at this point. “But unless you’re a really good actress, you’re gonna be, like, pretending to struggle against these because they’re totally not going to hold you and,” the Goth sex angel paused for effect, her eyes 60% closed as if this much talking was already boring her to death, “that would make me feel really dumb.”

Peyton’s body made a small, involuntary gasp. If this toy was going to make Morticia Adams embarrassed and self-conscious, there was no way that Peyton was going to take this devil-toy back to the frat house. Peyton narrowed her eyes, handing the package back to the woman.

“Ok, what do you suggest?”

And this is how Peyton Rice became the proud owner of a combo set of what seemed like military grade ropes.

She teased Scotty all night at dinner about her secret plan. He had some questions.

“Where is this surprise happening?” He wanted to know over tacos and tequila, “‘Cause the rest of the guys are prepping for the barbecue so we can’t be doing stuff in the kitchen.”

“We won’t be in the kitchen.” Peyton tried to deadpan, copying the black-lipstick-ed saleswoman, “We’ll be in the bedroom.”

And with lightning speed, Scotty got the check and raced Peyton back to the frat house, through the kitchen that had enough meat in it to choke a lion, and up to his bedroom. He let down the paisley window-coverings while Peyton pulled the package out of her backpack and placed it in the center of the bed. Scotty opened it, trying to contain the massive smile spreading across his face.

“Wow, these are… serious…” Scotty, the avid fisherman, loved ropes and before Peyton knew it, she was securely attached to his four-poster Queen bed. Peyton, spread like an eagle, looked at her boyfriend of four years, and burst out laughing. Then Scotty did the same. This wasn’t them. They liked going hiking and bowling and once went to a cooking class together where they made their own ice cream for dessert. This was totally out of their league and most definitely out of their comfort zones.

“So, um, what do you want me to do?” Asked Scotty, trying to suffocate his chuckling by repeatedly clearing his throat and ruining whatever was left of the mood. Peyton felt her blush return. Now she had to tell him what to do? Didn’t he know her at all? This was not her thing. She looked at him, ready to laugh again, but he was totally serious. Scotty picked up the bondage package and looked at the insert.

“Yeah, it doesn’t exactly come with directions.”

Peyton let out a heavy sigh. This was not how she’d envisioned the evening panning out. Here, fine, she thought. She’d walk him through it, like everything else in their relationship.

“Why don’t you kind of tease me a little bit? I’ll close my eyes.”

Scotty shrugged. A few loud yells erupted from the floor below and Peyton just knew in her heart that her boyfriend was wishing that he was downstairs prepping for the barbecue. She shook her head, opening her eyes.

“It’s ok, we don’t have to do this. It was a dumb idea. Why don’t you just untie me?”

“No, it’s awesome that you got these. It’s super hot. Really. I just, I don’t know, I’ve got a lot on my mind. There’s just so much pressure these days with figuring out what to do when-“

Peyton tried not to scream, “Scotty, I totally want to have this talk with you. But can you PLEASE untie me first?”

And then, before they could have this important and long overdue conversation, they were interrupted. Not by one of Scotty’s many frat brothers or by a phone ringing or by a dog jumping on the bed. No. They were interrupted by the deafening siren of a fire alarm.

Now, Peyton and Scotty did a lot of things in their lives very well. Peyton was going to turn into an excellent teacher and Scotty would eventually spend time on almost every body of water on the planet. But neither excelled under stress.

“GET ME OUT OF HERE.” Peyton wailed because Scotty had froze. She tried to kick him but her ankles were bound a little too securely. “SCOTTY WAKE UP.”

Scotty’s head swiveled back to Peyton and he stared at her, waiting for the next instruction.

UNTIE ME!” Peyton yelled with more force than she’d said anything up until this moment in her life. And Scotty tried, he really, really tried. But the alarm was so loud and the pressure was so on and were they about to jump out the second story into one of those giant trampoline things butt-ass naked for the whole campus to see? Scotty was debilitated by the idea. Peyton was now sweating profusely.


Scotty went to work on Peyton’s left foot. But these were serious ropes. And his hands were seriously shaking. His fingers felt like they were stuck in baseball mitts. He grunted and struggled and broke into a fierce sweat. He almost had one undone when, yes, he heard a banging on the door.

“Fire Department, open up.”

Scotty, a good direction-follower, popped right up,

“Coming!” He yelled.

“What do you think you’re doing?” Peyton screamed, “Don’t open the door!” Another knock, this time louder, coupled with the alarm still wailing was really stressing them both out.

“Everything ok in there?”

Scotty wrapped a towel around his waist, “Babe, I just need to tell them everything is fine,”

“COVER ME UP,” Peyton yelled as he quickly placed his lacrosse sweatshirt over the most vulnerable parts of her body. Then he opened the door a crack.

“Everything is totally copacetic in here! You don’t need to come in!” Peyton stared at the back of Scotty’s head. This guy had been the love of her life for the past four years. He’d been with her for every memory of college and even though they’d felt more like study buddies lately, she had still sort of planned on him being part of her future. Maybe because she’d never seen this side. He couldn’t step it up under pressure, he couldn’t lie, and it turns out he was a fisherman who couldn’t untie his own knots. Peyton squeezed her eyes shut, wishing for it all to be over. When she opened them, there was Scotty standing at the head of the bed. And three firemen beginning to untie her ankles. She closed her eyes again. There was no way in hell that she was going to look at anyone in that room.

She laid there, pretending she was somewhere else, anywhere else. She felt her left ankle release, then her right, then both wrists. She still didn’t open her eyes.

“Ma’am, are you ok? Are you here on your own free will?” Now, Scotty decided to step up and be helpful.

“She’s the one who bought the ropes.”

“Ma’am, is this true?”

Peyton managed to squeeze out a ‘yes’ between teeth so gritted they could have crumbled in her mouth. She felt Scotty bring her a blanket.

“Ma’am?” Peyton wrapped the blanket around her and opened one eye - just a little.

“We’re going to need some ID.”

And whatever sliver of dignity Peyton was holding onto vanished as she shuffled over to her backpack, holding the college logo- branded blanket tightly around her body, and pulled out her wallet.

Then, as soon as the alarm began, it turned off and the firefighters shuffled out of the door. Peyton collapsed onto the floor. The ropes hung limply from the bed frame. Then Scotty cried.

“It’s ok,” Peyton offered half-heartedly. He laid his head in her lap. Ok, thought Peyton, now I’m comforting HIM?”

The barbecue had a small gas fire but the house and everyone in it were ok. She and Scotty broke up soon after, Peyton went off to Alaska, had the time of her life, but never dated a fisherman again.

But, the story gets worse. It was parent’s weekend. And the story made it into the local police blotter. And everyone knew who it was about.

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