The Kissing Spell (Part 1)

A small office grievance and mistake lead to something unexpected for two people.

Inspired by art from Sue-chan

Part 1

Mark breathed in slowly a few times, enjoying the feel of a body he’d forgotten he had. The air in his lungs felt good, and it also felt good to breathe it out of himself. He didn’t want to open his eyes yet, but something told him he should. He fought the sensation as best he could, not remembering it’d been 30 minutes ago where he was instead fighting to keep his eyes open.

Neither fight ended in his favor, and he felt weaker than ever now, certainly too weak to resist it. As his eyes opened, he noticed how different it felt to wake up, like he’d been in a very deep sleep, but he felt no crust to wipe out of his eyes, so it was more like a long nap to him.

The ceiling he stared at for a second reminded him of the one in his office, but this one lacked a small hole he accidentally made a year after getting it. He also noticed that the view from his office wasn’t as good as in this one. Before it dawned on Mark that it wasn’t his office, whose office it was came into view.

Sabrina, the office consultant, or the red-headed vixen as he liked to think of her. She was smiling at him, a sweet smile that made him smile back. Usually her smiles were tired or fake, trying to be cordial or suggesting the corny jokes he told were never funny. Then there was that smile that morphed from even to unamused to considerate in the space of a few seconds, something he’d never seen any other woman give him as he suggestively mentioned how attractive he thought they were. His approach was never that subtle though, and deserved the blunt phrasing of “hitting on someone.” Sabrina, for all her signals of thinking of him as annoying, seemed inviting in regards to his comments, despite the morphing smile.

That sweet smile was shining to him though, it gave him confidence to do something he thought he’d never do. Mark’s mouth opened wide and his tongue slid from its confines to be exposed to the air. He started panting steadily, and stayed that way for several minutes. Sabrina’s smile widened, and Mark smiled through his canine panting. He knew he was making her happy like this, and that was enough incentive to keep doing it. He knew not to bark though; this time of day at the office, it would be too loud. If he was a good enough boy, someday she might be alone with him to hear the barking of a good dog.

She placed a hand on top of his head, and applied pressure to it. His body took the hint and poured himself out of the chair and to all fours, looking up at her. He wanted to rise up to lean his paws on her, but she didn’t give permission for that. She ruffled the human hair on his head, making him shake and enjoy the contact. Snickering escaped from her as she saw Mark’s ass sway to and fro, imagining the tail he thought was there, trying to simulate wagging happily in his owner’s presence.

After that, she started waving a hand in front of him, drawing his attention to her fingers and fingernails. He followed every direction and movement, thrown off guard by the snap that made him collapse onto the floor.

Sabrina sat atop her desk and stared at the man lying on her floor. She laid a hand atop the miniature grandfather clock on her desk, patting it, running her hand over it appreciatively. Though given the same treatment as Mark, she had more regard for it than most things or people in the office. It helped most of her coworkers there see things from Sabrina’s mindset; it was most of everyone on her floor by now, with a few exceptions. She was surprised it took Mark this long to visit her for a mandatory ‘wellness-gauging’ she was contracted to do for at least everyone on their floor. But then again, his attitude toward women and terrible sense of humor was off-putting enough that she’d delayed seeing him for as long as possible. Once he crossed the line with her, she set him straight, and introduced him to his true nature of being a dog, with the slight modification of being a well-behaved one. Glancing down at him, she found it fascinating that the punishment she dealt was a form of humiliation both of them reveled in, one he might never be consciously aware of. But it was more rewarding to her to have him obediently humiliating himself, as well as symbolically sitting high above him.

Looking at the time on the grandfather clock, she realized it was almost time for the scheduled afternoon meeting.

“Marcus,” she spoke with a Gaelic lilt in her voice, “it’s almost time for you to wake up and act human again. I know how much you love being a dog, I love it when you are as well. So reflective of your true nature. But after our talk today, you know that you’re a better dog on the inside, one that will have more respect for women knowing he, you, are not above any of them. The good dog in you will reflect your everyday life more and more, especially when you interact with women. You do this not only because you know it’s right, but also because you know I can bring you back to being a good, obedient dog whenever I and only I tell you to “Heel, Marcus,” and you’ll be mine again. And whenever you’re awoken from your dog-state, you’ll have no memory of being a dog or of being hypnotized; merely having dozed off. Understand, Marcus? Speak like a human.”

“Yes, Sabrina.”

“Excellent, wake up now,” she snapped her fingers for effect.

Mark opened his eyes and found himself waking up, wondering when he dozed off. Wanting to rise up from his chair to apologize, he made the motion to but Sabrina raised her hand and stopped him from trying to do so.

“Don’t worry Marcus, you’d said you only got a little bit of sleep last night, and sometimes these meetings do get a little boring, something I have to work on. Hopefully the meeting we have in a few minutes won’t be.”

Mark looked down at his watch and realized how much time had passed.

“Did we…finish?”

“Half-finished, actually. If it weren’t for the meeting, we’d keep going, but we can resume this another time.”

“Uh…thanks for the talk Sabrina.”

“Not a problem Marcus, but let’s get to that meeting now.”

He nodded and half-smiled at her, excusing himself from her office, still obviously confused.

Sabrina covered her mouth, trying to keep her chuckling to herself even though he was gone. It never ceased to amaze her how easy and susceptible some people were, or what the mind was capable of. It shouldn’t have been surprising to her as often as she honed her skill on every subject or pet she made.

A consulting job at an IT firm like this was the easiest employment she’d ever had, in part because she could set her own terms. Her responsibilities were officially to monitor, keep track of, and assist with some of the tedious and sometimes extreme work conditions the industry sometimes called for via therapy. It was becoming less uncommon for tech firms to have standing connections and/or contracts with counselors or therapists, but her boss couldn’t help but phrase it as ‘experimental’ for his firm, since Sabrina was in-house and on-site; ‘techload counseling,’ her position was creatively dubbed. It was working out though, because everyone she’d met with received the standard means to deal with some of the stress tech work could call for. She also did some side-consulting when it came to dealing with clients, prospective or otherwise. Though she knew little of the industry at first, she was very adept at reading people, predicting behavior, and even helping to indirectly persuade some to stick with their company, given her constant effectiveness. After a lot of work around the office, she helped prevent many potential burnouts, and contributed to an increase in overall productivity. All of this was very natural to her with her expertise in hypnotherapy, so it often felt like a do-nothing job.

Her true calling at a job like this, and the only incentive she had to remain there, was manipulating people for her own enjoyment. Walking out of the office, she enjoyed seeing the fruits of her labor. One of the office gossipers didn’t gossip as often as she used to now, conservative dressers and provocative dressers look like they’d traded wardrobes once a week, even if not on the same day, and the ‘ladies man’ Mark already showed signs of being programmed by not trying to throw every woman he passed by some kind of pick-up line, even a jokingly-made one.

She carried her smile all the way to the boardroom, where most of everyone was already seated, except for a few, including Jon standing in a corner. It looked like he was looking over notes in a report, but his inside-and-out knowledge of reports, and the fact that he was facing away from everyone meant to her he was trying to shield himself from people. Of all the people in the office, Sabrina identified Jon right away as a hard case. He was an above-average project manager, known as a fairly good leader for his or any group he worked with, and among the most serious in the whole building, making his friendship with Mark strange in her eyes. Mark didn’t bother trying to talk to him before things started, probably because the vibe he was putting out didn’t seem very inviting.

As their boss called everyone to get the meeting started, Jon and Sabrina exchanged a glance as they sat down. Their expressions were blank, but their eyes said enough between them, how Sabrina was trying to analyze him, and Jon trying to mask his feelings as he realized he was being analyzed. Both of them knew what their looks meant as they sat and the meeting was underway.

Jon looked down at the papers in his report, trying to look interested and give his attention, out of respect one of his team members who’d worked hard on the presentation that he’d signed off on. Most managers would do the presentations of their team’s work themselves, but he let his people have a chance to step up to the plate, boosting their confidence and their output, and their respect for him. Jon was happy to have his group numbers shown going up, and hoped others would give them the recognition he believed they earned.

Once the floor was turned over to Jesse Candace, another project manager from a different floor, he went back to his report and stayed there. It legitimately contained the same information she’d be showing everyone in slides, but at that point, he really didn’t care to look up, a reaction exclusive to that presenter. Jesse had a reputation of being among the friendlier managers in the whole building, showing great camaraderie with her team and anyone else. They often spoke of working under her being like a company perk, and worked hard for the privilege of staying under her wing. Her blonde hair and athletic figure certainly garnered attention, especially from the likes of Mark, but at one point she had eyes only for Jon, and he for her.

It might’ve been the best-kept secret that they had dated four months before. They’d hit it off pretty well at a company picnic, admiring each other at first for their athletic skill. They played volleyball and Jesse almost dominated the game, showing off her skill. The only one who gave her any real challenge was Jon who got his athletic prowess from martial arts. His team lost to Jesse, but it was close enough that everyone watching was cheering loudly for both sides. After, Jesse and Jon congratulated each other over a beer, and chastely admitted their attraction for one another. Their first time together was the night after, and they started coupling fairly often.

It seemed great to both of them, but Jon had more of an impression that they’d become a couple. He mentioned wanting to discuss if they were ‘going steady’ one night, but her response was a silent nod and kissing words away for the rest of the evening. He thought for sure that meant ‘yes,’ but now looked at it as trying to shut him up nor not kill the mood. What he noticed over time was how inconsistent their time together was spent. He measured by weeks; one week they seemed nearly inseparable, and the next she could be totally absent were it not for passing by her at work. Sex happened at least once a week, but for all the passion they tried to put into it, it still felt rather hollow. Jon tried to make it clear early on how much he liked her and that he wanted a stable relationship with her, but she only inferred she wanted that, just enough to convince Jon or herself that that’s what she wanted too. It came to halt two weeks prior when he’d planned a dinner for her that she never showed up for, and purposefully avoided his calls and him at work for the next week.

It was then that he considered she just needed her space or that it was over. He could only hope it wasn’t him being needy, but he had no way of knowing. He always told her he liked her, but he couldn’t help but feel more for her, and was somewhat sure she knew his feelings. Not being able to tell her he’d fallen in love after a month was hard, but he didn’t want to try to push things. He didn’t know what was worse between those feelings not being reciprocated, those feelings possibly being faked, or being left not knowing for sure how and why things ended. Then a week ago, very late at night, she came to his doorstep, saying nothing, looking solemn yet wanting him, and against his judgment of wanting to question her, he let her in knowing she would probably just go straight for the bedroom with him. She was predictable that night unfortunately, but it hurt a surprising amount to wake up to nothing but a note hastily scribbled “Thanks.”

Jon always liked to take romance seriously, passionately, saving all he could give for one person. The hopeless romantic in him thought he found that person in Jesse, but it was a blow to become reduced to just a hook-up. The more Jesse talked in her presentation, the more he contended with the rising desire to tell her off, even making a scene. But he held himself together at his seat, just staring at the paper. The meeting was over before he realized it, and everyone standing up shook him out of his thoughts. He gathered up his papers and commended his subordinate on a job well done as cheerfully as possible before he left for his office. He walked at a brisk pace to his office, not acknowledging everyone like he could, just trying to get away for a few minutes.

As he entered and closed the door to his office, he leaned against the door, lightly banging the back of his head against it. He felt like venting more physical frustration, but he knew that’s all he was going to do. He sat down at his desk and leaned back into the chair, closing his eyes, wanting to be alone with his anger.

His solitude barely lasted 5 minutes before there was a knock on his door.

The knock proceeded Sabrina peeking her head in, asking if she could come in.

Jon sighed and said “Sure.”

Truth be told, Jon had suspicions about Sabrina, which prevented thinking highly of her. He wondered what the need really was for a consultant like her at the beginning; the idea of in-house therapy was sound, but reservations were strong about the therapist. He hoped it wasn’t something like Bevy was sleeping with her and that’s how she came to work here, but she did pull her own weight and helped others to continue doing the same. Still, something seemed off about things around her. People who also questioned her for similar reasons now thought highly of her, sometimes after one meeting with her. And attitudes he’d didn’t exactly approve of, but gotten used to, changed around the office.

“Is this a bad time Jonathan?”

“No, no, it’s ok,” he said.

“You look tired,” she noted.

“Long night,” he tried to briefly explain.

“Jon, I’ve noticed that I’ve seen nearly everyone on this floor but you.”

“Project managers are obligated to see you?”

“Per Mr. Bevy’s wishes, nearly everyone has seen me at least once. I’ve seen the few project managers on this floor with except you, and I think it’d be in your best interest to see me eventually, maybe soon.”

“Soon?”

“To be frank, I think something is bothering you, and no matter how small it is, talking about it early has helped a lot of people avoid the effect of letting something fester to the point of being toxic to their work and even well-being.”

“I’m aware of that,” Jon stated, squeezing the bridge of his nose.

“Then you can see why I think we should meet soon.”

“And if I’m inclined to say no?”

“Then while I understand, that might be something you have to take up with Peter later. But I’ll leave this here for you,” showing him a CD with something written on the front.

“What is that?”

“A relaxation CD, something I’ve used for myself and others, and it’s helped more people than it hasn’t.”

“I’ll probably be in the ‘hasn’t.'”

“Only if you want to stay that way….but you’re not as hard as you think you are Jonathan.”

Jon looked in her direction showing a little bit of agitation in his expression, something that told most people he showed it to ‘back off’. Sabrina may have been the first to look unfazed by it.

“And you’re not as clever as you think you are, Sabrina.”

Sabrina watched him get out of his chair, guessing he was going to try to shuffle her out of his office.

“Hmm, well since we’re being somewhat honest with each other, I hazard a guess that someone in the office is affecting you more than you’d like to let on, and that’s going to hurt you in the long run.”

“While I appreciate your honest appraisal, I’ll be honest with you and ask you to leave my office.”

“And yet I sense you’re response isn’t totally honest,” she nearly sneered at him.

“Brutal honesty would’ve been ‘get the hell out of my office. Now,'” he quickly replied, taking a step forward, impulsively trying to show intolerance.

“Well, to end this little cycle of honesty, I think you need-to-relax,” Sabrina spoke the last word low and sharp to him, taking her own step forward to match his, matching his gaze and expression as if his anger and threats carried no weight, and surprising him by pressing the CD against his chest. He took hold of it as she stepped out of his office.

Jon was left standing near his door, holding the CD, regretting letting that conversation go where it went, yet reluctant to regret speaking his mind like he did. He was sure she wasn’t holding back in what she meant, but maybe what she said. He half-expected to hear a complaint from Bevy about their conversation. It would’ve been her right to since he did dip below the standards he tried to set for himself as a manager, and he thought she would try to use Bevy to reprimand him.

He sat back down at his desk and tried to get some work done, checking over his subordinate’s work. A call 15 minutes later.

“Task speaking.”

“Jon.”

“Hey Peter, I mean, Mr. Bevy,” Jon greeted his boss.

“‘Peter’ is fine, Jon. Are you doing ok? his boss asked.

“Yeah, I’m sorry about what happened earlier,” Jon began his apology.

“Those meetings get to all of us, you just seemed more out of it than usual today.”

“What?”

“You had your head down the whole time during Ms. Candace’s presentation, like you were barely awake.”

“Oh, no, it was…” Jon looked for the right excuse “I was double-checking the report for the meeting. Something seemed off at first, and if there was any correction to be made, it was best to be brought up there.”

“I have a hard time believing that. I’m guessing you’ve got a thing for Jesse Candace.”

“Wha-?”

“The way you were avoiding looking at her; you remind me of an old shy roommate, who I had to help meet girls. There’s nothing wrong with showing interest Jon. There’s no policy against inter-company dating, you know that.”

“Thanks for the reminder boss, I’ll…consider it,” Jon couldn’t help but be slightly amused at the implication.

“Wouldn’t surprise me if she’s interested in you.”

“Why do you say that?”

“I don’t know, you two just look like you’d…fit together. Plus, she looked at you a few times while she was presenting; that could mean something.”

“Ok, I’ll take that under consideration too. Thanks.”

“No problem Jon. It’s nice to see even some of my most studious employees can get distracted.”

“I’ll try to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

“As long as work is up, you won’t see me complaining.”

“I’ll do my best with that.”

“Good man, let me let you get back to it.”

“Thanks, bye Mr. Bevy.”

Jon hung up the phone and put his face in his hands, sighing deeply.

* * *

Jon arrived home late into the night, burying himself in work as much as he could, before giving up for the night and shuffling all the paperwork carelessly into his briefcase to head home. He was too tired to organize it all, and by the time he arrived home, he was too tired to do anything.

He would’ve gone for the Playstation, but he didn’t have any interest in it after today. Hunger didn’t set in like it usually did considering the turbulent day he had, so he settled for an easy cup of ramen and apple juice, and a small workout shortly after before thinking about heading to bed. It was less about being tired and more being mentally exhausted from the day he had and wanting it to go away soon instead of trying to counteract it with something he liked. After showering, he at least decided to prepare himself for the next day, and went to deal with what was thrown into his briefcase. Organizing the shuffle of papers, he’d come across the CD Sabrina gave him, or more accurately slapped to his chest.

Jon still believed something was odd about her being there, and maybe the things she was doing, but he couldn’t prove anything. And he didn’t exactly look back at his exchange with her earlier as something righteous; reactionary was more like it. And no matter what he thought about her, he’d make himself apologize to her soon. He thought about all this as he held the CD in his hands. There was no special markings or even anything written on it. It looked like a generic disc, and made him think she simply burned a quick CD, maybe with him in mind, or something she gave to some of the staff to help them along. As it looked as generic as any random CD-R in the office you’d find, there was no way to tell if she made recordings for others often. He decided to give it a listen, cautiously.

Getting ready for bed, he set his alarm clock, and used an old portable CD player he kept to play it. He rested his head against his arm, bed sheets covering up to his chest, listening to the audio start up. The first and only thing he heard was a soft surf of water coming onto the beach. He listened for about a minute into it before he fast forwarded past 5 minutes and it was the same sound, only louder. At that point, he thought she just left him one of those “sounds of nature” CDs. Jon had heard a few before, and while this one wasn’t exceptional, it was nice. It let his imagination run to an imaginary beach where he was alone, lying in the shade on a warm day, listening to the water come and go. His arm shifted and let his head rest against the pillow. The beach sounds kept playing and the night went away before Jon knew it.

* * *

Jon woke the next morning, feeling pretty good. The headphones had fallen off his ears sometime during the night, and he felt more energy coming out of bed than he thought he’d have, beating the alarm noise by 5 minutes. After a set of push-ups, sit-ups and a quick jog, he’d gotten a shower and spontaneously decided to make a more filling breakfast than usual. He would’ve usually saved it for weekends, but Friday was close enough for him, and he did feel exceptionally good. After the meal, he dressed and gathered up everything he needed for work, making sure to bring the CD to thank Sabrina and apologize later that day.

Arriving at work seemed like business as usual. There were no emails from Sabrina, Bevy, or anyone about yesterday, but he decided to get caught up on the few he received before Thursday, coordinating with them. One of the emails was from someone on Jesse’s team; he told him he would try to connect with him later that day, also hoping to get a few minutes with Jesse herself to talk. It was nearly lunchtime by the time he’d caught up on all the other emails, and he told Jesse’s subordinate that he’d try to meet him just before lunch, thinking it wouldn’t take long.

He took the stairs to the level below him, heading toward Jesse’s part of the floor. He made his way straight in that direction, until something made him deviate. It was very much in-passing he heard from two guys who passed by Jon, and he could’ve let it go or mistakenly heard something other than what was said, but “Jesse and that guy last night” was what it sounded like, and it was enough to make Jon follow them as they headed to the bathroom. He kept his head down and headed for the stall while they stood in front of the sink, still talking.

Jon didn’t like eavesdropping and felt a little hypocritical for chastising his friends and people who worked under him about it, but he couldn’t help himself. The two described last night where several of Jesse’s team, including Jesse, went out for drinks, and this handsome guy started hitting on her. He was pretty subtle about it, or just subtle enough to not be told off. After she accepted the drink he bought for her, they got to talking, and that seemed to be it. One of the men however theorized that the guy leaving and Jesse saying she was ‘turning in’ not 5 minutes after, that she probably took him up on whatever offer he’d thrown her way. The one who listened to it had trouble believing the story, no matter how much the other swore by it. Jon just sat still in the stall, replaying the details in his head, getting more upset the more he thought about it. Had Jesse been just another co-worker, he would’ve thought nothing of it all. But she was much more than that. And worse yet, through the last absent month of contact, his feelings allowed him to believe the guy’s theory, clashing with the last conversation he had with Jesse about where they stood. He’d obviously translated her version of “we’re still together” incorrectly, or just defined “together” very differently.

He left the bathroom stall and went back up to his office, walking with the distress of yesterday, just before he snapped at Sabrina. It didn’t matter to him that he’d left someone waiting for him, he just needed to be left alone. He was fortunate that most people were starting to head out to get lunch by the time he was in his chair, shaking his head as he reclined back, he hoped he’d have enough time to cool off. The memory of a picture she’d taken of herself for him, that he kept in his wallet, prompted him to pull it out and look at it. Her smiling face was now like a cruel taunt; someone that he wanted slipped away from him for what seemed like no good reason. He didn’t want to face the fact that what was between them was just a whim for her, especially as he thought about long-term plans. He wanted to throw her picture in the trash, but it ended up somewhere on his desk. Maybe he would return it to her to convince himself that it was over, maybe. He suddenly remembered the CD he’d listened to last night, and decided to let it help him start to feel better, or at least ‘not-angry’ sooner than he could.

He took his shoes off, took slow deep breaths to prepare to relax, put on the headphones and let the sound of the surf come into his ears again. Unexpectedly, the sound already started to work his stress out, and he settled into a comfortable position almost instantly. With the size of the breakfast he made himself, he didn’t feel hungry enough to need to get food, and he knew the duration was about 40 minutes, so he just let it play, and pretended the salty waters would take his problems temporarily away from him.

What Jon didn’t know was that he’d tossed and turned a little, accidentally letting the headphones come off his head as he slipped into natural sleep. They were more fixed while he sat in his chair, so he wouldn’t miss anything this time. The first time he only heard the water flowing, and not the barely audible track of a whispering voice. All his mind picked up was whispered commands to relax, settle into wherever he was, and let himself go. Last night he let go to sleep; taking in all of the recording meant he was letting go to the voice. Whispers craftily became as audible as the water, almost woven into the rhythm of the waves. And then they became more identifiable, more feminine, seductive, and methodical, the beach expertly fading into a subliminal track. Jon didn’t have time to recognize what was going on, as was the CD’s intended purpose.

Sabrina knocked softly at his door, hoping to speak with him about the day before. Checking the handle to see if it was locked, she slowly opened the door to see Jon laying back and listening to something. She looked back to see if anyone else was around before closing the door gently behind her. Her heels treaded carefully, silently as she approached him. Tilting her head down to come close to listen to the recording, a wicked smile formed as she heard her own voice through his headphones. He looked so peaceful, calm, and actually happy as her words ran through his mind. She didn’t know for sure if he would even listen to it after yesterday, but before meeting him, she thought it wouldn’t hurt to try. At that point, there wasn’t anything special planned with him; just having him under opened up numerous possibilities.

“Like I said Jonathan, you’re not as hard as you think you are,” she whispered to the mentally-tamed manager. Leaning in again to hear what her voice was telling him, keen ears noted he was past the deepening part that fixed him exactly where he was. Listless, receptive, almost totally reliant on her voice, and getting into deepening based on his desires, and maybe forming new ones. She did, in-fact, give him a generic relaxation CD, but one that was an introduction to her power. It was the most convenient way to reach some people whom she didn’t have time to personally meet with, but it worked wonders for opening people up to her later on. Knowing the timing of her words, she waited for a particular pause between her induction to give Sabrina the window to personally take over where the CD left off. When that time came, his headphones were gently removed.

“Good, Jonathan. Yes, very good. It is good that you’re hearing my words so clearly, as if they’re coming from inside your mind. That’s right, you’re so open to them. It feels so natural to just be as you are now, and be totally attentive to my words. The sound of my voice is very alleviating and calming, even soothing if you listen long enough. And the longer you listen, the deeper you’ll go into this state where it’s just you and me, and my words. And the deeper you go, the more you will want to listen, to let those words come over you, to make you feel better, even help shape you into someone better. A happier shape, a nicer shape, a deeper shape. Any shape Sabrina sees fit. Doesn’t this feel good, Jonathan? No need to question or analyze any of this; just let it happen. Thoughts wash away with the surf and leave you warm and peaceful. Or the warm waters of my voice carry you out to sea, away from your troubles and will bring you back much better than they left you. It feels good to let Sabrina in.”

Jon showed no change after she removed his headphones, his smile only deepened as he heard her voice and personally addressed him. Sabrina’s Irish intonation grew stronger in her voice, and she let her known hypnotist-prowess take over and guide him. Years of experience allowed her to completely, consciously remove the accent from her voice in normal conversation. But as a hypnotist, she treated it like an additive, something to enhance her control. She liked showing her true colors like this, speaking naturally from her Irish heritage, as naturally as bringing someone deep into her influence. She touched his temples and started rotating circles in his skin.

“Nothing feels as good as this does Jonathan. This is the escape you’ve been looking for. A vacation for your mind and body, that not even a conventional getaway can grant you. Not travel agent required for a hypnotic vacation, just the sound of my voice to carry you off. And while you’re on this luxurious trip, don’t be afraid to feel and act naturally. You could feel fatigued and drained enough to just sleep in your condition, and that’s perfectly fine. In fact, Sabrina insists that you do so. Let your mind go as you listen to me as I help you feel better the next time you wake. Earlier I spoke of things that you desire, things that make you very happy, maybe things you don’t even tell others about. You can let those thoughts come to you now; they will aid you in feeling better. Whatever makes you happy, picture that right now. Create it as specific or as vague as you like, but let it come to the forefront of your sleepy mind.”

Sabrina watched his eyelids twitch and move, like REM sleep, all while taking a deep breath in his nose. The only thing Jon was aware of was Sabrina’s words, the shape of his desire, and unconsciously the scent of Sabrina’s perfume that helped shape his desire. Sabrina didn’t know that it was making his breaths particularly deeper, and she wasn’t keen on him describing his desires to her yet.

“Yes, Jonathan, that’s right. Very good. Deep breaths and desirable thoughts all take you deeper. And it makes you want to experience these desires, to let them fill your head and fill you with joy. It’s more than natural to feel that way, you should want to feel good. As you listen to my voice, interacting with these desires becomes more vivid in your imagination, in your dreams. It’s like your dreams are coming true, and it’s all thanks to Sabrina. I am quite happy to have led you here, the pleasure is almost as much mine as it is yours. But since you might feel the need to thank me, you can thank me by interacting with your desires right now. Yes, that’s right. With each word I speak, interacting with these desires in your mind wi-”

Sabrina felt herself interrupted when Jon’s lips made contact with hers. She thought it was an accidental, casual brushing at first, like she’d gotten too close. It was Jon that closed the distance, as his desires overtook him, shaped not only by Sabrina’s words, but by her perfume, her feminine, confident tone, and how good she made him feel. Collectively she was embodying what he desired in a woman. A month or two ago, his desires may have taken on the image of Jesse, but it was more non-specific now. All he knew is that she was beautiful, whomever she was, engaging him on a very intimate level, and that they were close together and their lips connected. The casual brushing turned into a slow kiss. She was shocked more in how amorous it felt, even more than the notion of being kissed. Trying to pull back was fruitless, trapped by his hand that gently held the back of her neck. It didn’t really pull her closer, just allowing him to close the distance and bring his desire to his dream woman. The feel of each other’s lips, the slow, calefacient contact kept them together. The red-headed hypnotist let her judgment lapse for a minute and let herself enjoy a spontaneous action from her subject that she thought would last no more than a few seconds. She told herself she would stop this and take back control, but stopping it was a thought vaulted to the back of her mind as she lost herself in how he kissed her. Jon’s lips and intentions were patient; Sabrina’s felt eagerness, yet a yielding. He held back only to invite her to contribute, to match him and intensify the act together. She learned more about him than she ever expected to as the kiss deepened, unsurprising to either of them. Jon’s nose was filled with her perfume and the memory of her words set his actions into interacting with that desire, wanting to share it with the woman who more or less stood in-front of him and inspired it.

Sabrina caught herself, still in his gentle grip. A protest and command bidding him to stop failed against increased insistence on capturing her red lips. She leaned back to raise herself up, surprised that is hand at her neck came with her instead of pulling her down, and his head followed. She wondered at first if he was faking it, or if he really was in trance. Some of his expression suggested he was, but she’d taken him so deep into his desires that they now lead both of them. They both stood up, and the kiss continued, even slowing again before it would eventually increase. Jon was joyously trapped in a lucid dream, uninterested in anything that didn’t have to do with the woman and her spell-binding lips. Hastily-muttered suggestions of lethargic limbs didn’t feel as valid as the ones encouraging him to dive deep into his own desires from minutes earlier, so it didn’t feel strange at all to find the energy to lift himself out of the chair he was unaware of to stay close to her. Both standing upright, his hands were at her sides, and hers laid against his arms. Her mind and body were in protest about trying to push him away. His lips veered away from hers after long minutes, but softly pressed against her cheek and downward, allowing her to breathe. It was an overdue, passionate-sounding breath from her that excited his sated mind, feeling that he pleased his dream woman somehow.

“Jonathan…” Sabrina breathed out weakly. “J-” she tried not to make a sound, because it would’ve been moaning the way he sensually assaulted her neck. It wasn’t until their lips weren’t interlocked that she realized how good a kiss he gave her, like the lingering taste of an exquisite wine. Not forgetting that she was supposed to be the one in-control, she tried turning amour in her favor.

“Listen to me Jonathan, carefully and deeply. With each kiss, your mind and body becomes more motionless, thoughtless, waiting only for my words to allow you to move. Especially when you kiss my lips.”

Sabrina grasped his head and moved him back to her face, and gave him a latent kiss, as if paying him back. The kiss was shorter, and she made sure she was controlling it as she pulled his face away from her with her hands, smiling deeply as she watched his half-open eyelids and his mouth slowly moving, almost searching for the lips he was just denied.

“No, no Jonathan. Your body is supposed to not move for me. Once our kiss is over, a deep overwhelming hush comes over you and is only lifted at my command. Stop moving, no thinking, simply breathing normally, remain totally at rest for Sabrina.”

She watched him slow to a crawl, and then becoming a breathing tranced statue, finally stilled and obedient. A lithe finger ran over her lips as she looked at his.

“Jesus,” she whispered to herself, trying to get her breathing back in control. She would need to reapply her lipstick soon, as half of it looked smeared across his mouth. She regarded him cautiously as he was stilled, he didn’t look completely under. Her deep breaths were quiet, almost afraid to give any indication she was close by. The fear of leaving him to wake and figure out what happened was stronger though. Sabrina hated to admit that Jon was a harder, or trickier subject than she gave him credit for. She would chastise herself later for the playing with the fire of his passion, using it against him, followed by reasoning how she had little choice as he took her breath away. “No, deprived me of oxygen,” she told herself. She stepped up to his side and started whispering something into ear when the desk phone rang.

He drew breath unexpectedly as he tried and successfully blinked out of his tranced look. He came to himself just barely, but noticed a scent in the air, and his senses acted on instinct, his head reaching out and coming into contact with surprised lips again. The phone continued to ring, making him open his eyes wide. He saw Sabrina’s blue eyes, almost as wide as his. He gasped as their lips parted, and he stepped back in complete shock.

“Sabrina…I..” he saw her lipstick, looking smudged and ruined. He touched his own lips and the same color shade on hers rubbed off on his fingers. He didn’t know how he ended up like this, but something about it felt like it was his fault. He didn’t bother approaching her as shocked as she still looked. He didn’t even try to answer his ringing phone. In a rush he told her ‘I’m sorry’ several times before leaving his office and quickly moving to the elevator and the parking garage. Mercifully, he beat the flood of vehicles coming back from lunch, and no one noticed his lipstick-covered mouth as he drove home.

After nearly sprinting to his apartment door, he made it inside and leaned against his door, breathing what felt like his first breath since he left his office. His eyes closed as he just let the air heave in and out of him, trying to get a hold of himself. The back of his head banged against the door in frustration, picturing Sabrina still in his office with that stunned look. Remembering her lipstick, he moved straight to his bathroom, seeing himself in a mirror for the first time.

“Jesus,” he whispered. He looked as ridiculous as an old fraternity gag played on him from college, but he couldn’t bring himself to laugh at this.

A deep red smeared across his lips, a flustered look on his face. The kind of behavior he’d expect from Mark honestly. He was very happy Mark hadn’t seen him like this, or any of the common gossipers; they’d never allow him to live it down. And that wouldn’t even be as big a worry as Sabrina’s response. Kissing her like he did out of the blue, like out of some dream. He closed his eyes momentarily and remembered the dream of kissing a beautiful woman, and strangely found himself in the arms of one of the last women he could ever expect to do that with. Not that she wasn’t beautiful; being honest with himself, he admitted she at least deserved to be called gorgeous. A bit exotic, which only added to the appeal, yet he figured there was a price to that beauty, something he wasn’t sure he could tolerate if he knew what it was. That unlikely fantasy felt even further off realizing he was the one who did something intolerable; her face didn’t exactly convey ‘consensual’ when he came to. It was the after that he worried about now – at best a formal and written apology to Sabrina and a stern talking to by Bevy. At worst, sexual harassment charges, terminated employment, a chance at a ruined career.

Jon moved to his couch and sat there, feeling lost and defeated in a way, over the biggest misunderstanding of his life. He laid back and tried to think what the hell happened, where is instincts went totally awry on him, and fell asleep. Deep into that sleep his woman came back to him and his anxiety and fears went away for a little while.

Part 2

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