Felicia’s Rules

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Sometimes the most personal journeys of one’s life begin in the unlikeliest of places. Mine began while lying on a tropical beach on the other side of the world. My friend Steph and I, having just graduated college, were vacationing at a spa in the French Polynesia, surrounded by scenery like nothing I had ever seen outside of picture postcards. The white sand sparkling in the noonday sun, gently rolling harbour lapping against the shore, and breezes whispering through the leaves of swaying palms overhead all combined to make the most tranquil setting imaginable. Yet even now, a vague feeling of unease lingered somewhere in the back of my mind – a feeling which had followed me all the way to this island paradise and seemed stubbornly immune to its beauty.

Sitting up, I reached toward the rattan table beside me and took another sip of papaya juice. My body ached pleasantly as I moved, a side-effect of all the massages, hydrotherapy sessions, and exercise we had experienced over the last four days – all prescribed by the spa to rid ourselves of impurities, both mental and physical. Still, as pleasant as these treatments had been, I welcomed the chance to just lounge on the beach unattended, without being rubbed down or oiled up by strange hands.

As I glanced over at Steph, she propped herself up on her elbows and looked irritably at her own pale skin which refused to tan. We would have appeared a very contrasting pair to anyone looking at us lying side by side. Steph was loud, bubbly, and fearless, with a head of fiery red curls to match her fiery personality. I was much quieter and more sedate, with a mane of dark brown hair cascading over my shoulders. Where my friend’s skin was pale and freckled, mine was lightly tanned. And my tall, slender frame, made so by years of ballet class, was the opposite of Steph’s curvy, more athletic shape. The pair of us seemed to attract our share of admiring glances from both women and men. But while Steph basked in the attention, I was often too engrossed in a book or my own thoughts to notice – a fact which Steph seemed to find amusing. Right now, though, the beach was mostly ours, save for a group of girls playing volleyball in the distance and the odd windsurfer dotting the horizon.

I vaguely remember my friend making some offhand remark about needing another mud bath for her sunburnt skin but I wasn’t really listening. Somehow Steph sensed that my thoughts were elsewhere.

“Is anything wrong, Felicia?” She raised her sunglasses to look at me. “You’ve been pretty quiet lately. I mean more than usual.”

I turned to her, surprised. “I have? I guess I have something on my mind.”

Steph sighed. “We came here to relax. You’re missing the point.”

“I know,” I said sheepishly.

“And just what is weighing on your mind this time?”

I paused before answering. “I… I was thinking about Mark.”

Though her sunglasses were back on, I sensed Steph was rolling her green eyes behind them. “You’re obsessing over a guy? That’s even worse! Anyway, I thought everything was going perfect for you two.”

“It is,” I said a bit shamefully. “He is perfect. He’s sweet and respectful. Since the start of our relationship almost a year ago, we’ve never argued, not once. We get along perfectly. It’s all so… perfect.”

Steph regarded me with an arched brow. “Too perfect?”

I sat right up. “Yes… that is it. It’s too perfect somehow.” I felt a wave of guilt wash over me. “Isn’t that horrible of me to say? People live their whole lives never finding that perfect relationship and here I am complaining about mine being too good. It’s absurd, I know.”

Steph seemed to soften. “Not as absurd as you might think.”

I held up my hand. “Anyway, I promise not to mention it again.”

“Well, wait a minute,” Steph persisted, “maybe we should discuss this a bit more. It might help.”

“No. It’s… kind of personal.”

Steph seemed all the more determined to get it out of me. “If you can’t tell me, then who can you?”

I thought for a moment and, after eliciting her promise to keep everything secret, began to confess my problem. “I don’t know if I can explain this properly or at all. But you’ve known Mark as long as I have. He’s always been a bit quiet and reserved. That’s what I loved about him at first. He’s so respectful and sees our relationship as more of a deep, spiritual thing. Always tells me he loves me, that he respects me and my opinions. But… there are also things he never says.”

Steph looked at me expectantly. “Like what?”

I paused. “He never tells me I’m hot,” I said finally, with a giggle that sounded forced. “Never says I turn him on or how sensual I look. Oh, he’ll go on about the sacred, romantic bond we share. But he never comments on my clothes or my body or anything like that.”

“Ah,” nodded my friend. “Well, you know, for highly evolved types like Mark, that kind of stuff is hard sometimes. They’ve been taught from an early age that it’s wrong Betturkey to objectify women in that way, even a little.”

“That’s just it.” I felt a blush coming on as I continued in a hushed voice. “Sometimes I wish he’d objectify me. Treat me like an object. I know that’s a messed up thing to say.” As soon as the words had left me, I wished I could take them back.

Steph surprised me by saying, “That’s perfectly normal, Felicia. It can be a real turn-on to be objectified and worshipped sometimes. It’s something all girls want but seldom admit.”

I felt a tinge of relief. “Well, it doesn’t matter. Mark apparently doesn’t see me in that way. Sometimes I wonder if he finds me attractive at all.”

Steph glared at me, almost in disgust. “Are you crazy? Look at yourself.” I glanced down at my body, unable to see her point. “Remember how ungainly you used to look,” Steph went on, “up until the end of high school?”

I cringed. “Don’t remind me.”

“Well, there’s your problem. You were such a late bloomer in life that now you don’t even realize those days are gone.”

“If I’m that beautiful, why doesn’t he say it?” I sighed wistfully. “I tell him he looks gorgeous all the time. Because he does. If only he would say it to me…”

Steph lay back down and flipped onto her stomach. “I think I know something that might help,” she said with a twinkle in her eye. “It’s… well, it’s kind of a game.”

“A game?” said I, rather intrigued.

“Yes. No one knows exactly where it came from or who invented it. I heard about it through a friend who heard it from her friend, and so on. It has a way of opening people up and freeing them to express thoughts they would never say out loud. It seems deceptively simple at first. But the night I tried it with Steve, we both got so horribly turned on that we couldn’t keep our hands off each other the entire night.”

“Really.” I frowned skeptically, knowing well Steph’s penchant for exaggeration. “So how does it go?”

Steph tossed me her bottle of tanning oil. “Here, do my back while I tell you.” She reached back and untied her string bikini top. “Now then,” she continued as my oily hands travelled her bare back, “the premise is this: you agree to do anything Mark orders you to do for one evening – anything at all, as long as it turns him on in some way. And he must be very detailed and specific in every order he gives for you to carry it out. You, in turn, get to ask him anything – like why he wants you to do a certain thing or how it makes him feel, and he must answer truthfully or the game ends. No simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers allowed.”

“That’s it?” I said, a little disappointed.

“There are other rules which I’ll go into,” Steph added between grunts of pleasure as I massaged the back of her neck. “But that’s basically it. You have to obey his orders and he has to answer your questions. First one to break this rule is the loser. The secret is keeping the dialogue going, being playful and flirty, questioning him on everything. And believe me, he’ll answer no matter how probing or embarrassing your questions are because once the game really gets going, he’ll never want it to end.”

I was far from convinced. “It would never work. Mark would never give me orders. He’s not like that. What if he just doesn’t say anything?”

“Then you are allowed to make suggestions. But he has to give his consent to whatever you suggest.”

My hands had worked their way down to Steph’s lower back. “But what could I suggest?”

“Since it’s your first time, start with something simple. Like stripping for him. Can’t go wrong with that one.”

I found Steph’s “simple” suggestion more daunting than I cared to admit. “Strip in front of him, just like that?” I asked, trying hard not to sound too prudish.

Steph raised her head to look at me. “You mean you’ve never stripped for Mark?” I looked away. Her eyes widened behind her dark lenses. “What a crime.” I imagined a jealous gleam in my friend’s eye as she glanced over my long, elegant limbs. “With your ballet-dancer body, I’d walk around naked all the time.”

Normally, I would have laughed at her brazen comment. Instead I blushed and mumbled something which Steph asked me to repeat. “Mark hasn’t exactly… ever seen me naked,” I said again. “Well, not clearly, anyway. I mean, we make out and everything but always in the dark and under the covers. It’s, um, more comfortable that way.”

Steph shook her head in disbelief. “You are so old-fashioned. Well, this game will force you out of your comfort zone, I can promise you that.” Steph’s game was beginning to scare me. When I looked up again, I could see her reading the nervousness in my face. “But… perhaps you’re just not ready for something like this yet.” She put her head back down and closed her eyes, pretending to go to sleep. “I should’ve known better than to suggest it to you.”

Her comment stuck in my mind, turning my trepidation to indignation. “Um, what Betturkey Giriş is that supposed to mean?”

“Nothing. Just forget I said anything.”

“You think I can’t do it?” I pressed in a haughty tone. “That I’m too timid?”

“Face it, Felicia. I’ve met nuns more daring than you.”

I was rather incensed. “Look, I can be uninhibited if I choose to be.”

Steph grinned and opened her eyes. “Good. Then let’s cancel tonight’s spa treatments. I’m going to teach you the finer points of the game… and then we’re going shopping.”

I tilted my head. “For what? Clothes? What does my wardrobe have to do with the game?”

“Nothing personal,” said Steph delicately. “But those boring blouses you always wear, those glasses… not to mention the granny panties …”

“They’re called boyshorts!”

Steph laughed. “Well, whatever. Your style needs a makeover. As for your attitude…” She tied her top back on, stood, and began gathering up our things.

“Are we leaving?” I asked.

“Just taking a stroll down that way,” said Steph with a puzzling grin. “I hear there’s a much more interesting beach over there…”


The thunder and rain now rattling my loft windows had turned the street outside into a shallow, muddy river. I was lucky to make it from the cab to the apartment without getting totally drenched. It was certainly a drastic change from the paradise I had just left. I set my waterlogged luggage down on the hardwood floor and looked around. The loft was almost exactly as I had left it. In my week-long absence, Mark had altered very little except to move a portrait of me from the shelf to the bedside table. I felt happy imagining him looking at that picture every night before going to sleep. Part of me wished he was home already so I could have him in my arms this minute. The other part was thankful he was still at work, for I needed time to prepare both myself and the apartment for the little “game” I had planned. For the last four days, Steph had coached me in everything I needed to know to make this game a success. Now it was time to put knowledge into practice. I cleared an area and aimed the ceiling track lights in that direction, creating a pool of light in one corner of the loft and plunging the rest into darkness. In that darkness, I placed a solitary chair of black leather. Now I had a stage set for an audience of one.

I entered the bathroom, lit some scented candles and ran a bubble bath, hoping to soothe my jet-lagged mind. But as I stripped off my damp clothes and submerged myself, I felt only a gathering cloud of nerves in my stomach for what I was about to do. The temptation to just abandon the whole thing definitely entered my mind. After all, this game would require me to push personal boundaries I had never crossed before and do things I might be uncomfortable with. Why put myself through that stress? To prove to yourself you can do it, said an inner voice. And as I caressed my smooth skin underwater, a second thought occurred: the countless spa treatments of the past week had left my twenty-three-year-old body looking and feeling better than ever. Additionally, all the yoga, pilates and running I had done each morning, not to mention three organic vegetarian meals every day, had left me with barely an ounce of body fat on my frame. I might never look this good again!

With that thought spurring me on, I rose from the bath, towelled off, and put on an album of classical music. A glance at the clock told me there was just enough time to get in some ballet exercises, which I elected to perform in my bathrobe. When those were done, and the hard muscles throughout my body ached pleasantly from the exertion, I knew I was more than ready. I chose my wardrobe carefully, donning a gleaming white tank top, metal-studded belt, high heel shoes, and my tightest pair of black jeans, topping everything off with a hint of perfume. Then I went to the kitchen to make dinner.

I had just finished setting the table when the sound of heavy footsteps in the hallway announced Mark’s arrival. The door swung open and there he stood, all six feet of him looking as cute as ever to my eyes. I could tell he had been hitting the gym lately, as a layer of rainwater caused the details of his broad chest to show through his shirt. He looked haggard from his mad dash through the gale but brightened up the moment he saw me. “Felicia!” I ran forward and kissed him. “I missed you,” he said.

“I can tell,” I smiled.

His eyes glittered as they took in my bronzed skin and eye-catching outfit. “You look great.”

“Just ‘great’?” I asked.

“You look… really great,” added Mark proudly. “Wow,” he exclaimed, looking over my shoulder at the candlelit dining table. “What’s the occasion?”

“I haven’t seen you in a week, stupid,” I teased. “Come and sit down.”

Over a sumptuous dinner of pasta and wine – a recipe I learned from one of the spa’s cooking workshops – I told Mark about my holiday Betturkey Güncel Giriş and the barrage of skin treatments Steph and I had undergone. True to form, he happily sat through all of my stories, listening intently without once talking about himself. Only when dinner was over, and after profuse compliments on my cooking, did Mark turn around and look curiously towards the corner of the loft I had set up.

“I thought we might play a little game tonight,” I explained casually. “One I am sure you will enjoy.”

I led Mark by the hand to his chair in the centre of the room. As I went to the stereo and put on some light jazz, Mark suspected something strange was up. “A game?” he asked, looking uneasy.

“That’s right. You see, I sometimes feel that you may have certain thoughts about me that you never express. There may also be sides of myself which you have never seen and don’t even know exist. This game will bring these out into the open, allow us to share more parts of ourselves.” He looked puzzled by my enigmatic answer. “The rules are simple,” I continued in my “game” voice – a smooth, flirty and at times authoritative tone commanding obedience and respect. “I must do anything you tell me to do tonight – anything at all but only if it turns you on in some way. That’s the requirement. You see, you never tell me exactly what you want. Well, now is your chance.”

“Felicia,” he interrupted, looking almost sorry for me, “you don’t have to do this to please me. I love you just as you are.”

“I know I don’t have to. I want to. Now will you let me continue?” He sat rigidly in his chair, looking furtively around like a trapped animal. “And don’t look so scared. I promise to make this as painless as possible. Your job is easy. It’s to sit in that chair and do nothing, absolutely nothing but watch. There shall be no physical contact between us, only verbal. For anything more than that, you must ask my permission which I am under no obligation to give. Are we clear? Good. Now, for every order you give, I get to ask you a question – any question at all and you must answer truthfully or the game ends. No simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers allowed.”

“I don’t think I like this game,” Mark muttered.

“There are a few other rules which you will learn as the game goes on.” I took off my glasses and placed them on a nearby shelf.

“Did Steph put you up to this?” he asked, apparently aware of my girlfriend’s tendency to be a wild influence on me.

“She had nothing to do with it,” I lied. “This is just between us. Now then, if you are ready…” My high heels echoed on the hardwood floor as I walked to the middle of the lit area and faced him squarely. “What would you like me to do?” As I had feared, Mark just sat there in silence. I decided to open with a suggestion. “Would you… like me to let my hair down for you? You hardly get to see me wear it that way.”

“Uh… sure,” came his awkward voice from the darkness. I pulled out my hairclips, bent down and, with a toss of my head, let my wavy dark locks flow loosely about my shoulders.

“How does that look?” Mark gave no reply. The soft jazz now drifting through the loft gave me another opening. “Mmmm… do you like the music?” I asked sweetly. “It’s very sultry. Makes me feel like dancing. How about it? Would you like me to dance for you?”

“Uh-huh,” he mumbled.

I closed my eyes and slow-danced with myself. “Is this how you would like me to move?” Mark was silent. “You have to answer my questions,” I reminded him. “Don’t forget the rules.” I swayed my hips, raised my long arms and let the music flow through me as best I could. Mark watched me in stony silence, his face hidden from me by darkness. The seconds passing felt more like hours to me. I turned my body for him. “Do you like it when I move like this?” The self-consciousness was building inside me, verging on panic. This was not going at all like I’d hoped. I began to wish the ground would swallow me whole before I made a complete fool of myself.

Somehow I forced myself to dance awkwardly a while longer. Finally in desperation, I grasped the bottom of my tank top and slowly moved it up and down to the beat. Then I heard it – a quick intake of breath, nearly a gasp, coming from the darkness. Finally a reaction! I breathed an inner sigh of relief, then pounced on it.

“Oh, you like this, do you?” I teased, arching my brow. “You like it when I pull my shirt up like this? Showing you my belly button? Maybe I should take it all the way off. Would that get a rise out of you? You’re not answering me.”

“Yes,” said Mark at last.

“Yes what?”

“Take it off.”

My eyes twinkled at him. “That’s better.” I raised the bottom of my tank top slowly above my abs, then across my chest and finally up over my head… exposing the lacy, white, partially see-through bra I wore underneath. My pulse quickened as I felt his attention lock onto it. I dangled the tank top on my pinkie before dropping it to the floor in front of him.

“Do you like my new bra?” I asked, looking down at it innocently. “Isn’t it pretty? It is rather immodest, though. You can almost see right through it.”

“Mmmmm,” said Mark in a guttural voice as he shifted in his chair.

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