She collected her books off of the table into her briefcase.

The students had long since abandoned the classroom for the cold wintry afternoon.  The heat in the room had been turned down and was quickly escaping through the poor ventilation system in the old brick school.

Smoothing back her long red hair, she picked the bag up and dangled it by the strap over her shoulder.  Her black flats beneath her black slacks began to pad her way from the classroom.  Just before stepping out, she flipped the room lights off and her black overcoat almost cloaked her in the dark room that had single bits of street lamps providing light through the filter of falling snow.

White bricks lined the walls of the obscenely bright hallway.  The white foam rough tiles and inset lights made all shadows run away.

Turning left, her eyes fell upon the older man in the gray overalls as he pushed his broom.  Her stomach jumped and her heart skipped while she tried to keep her knees from collapsing.  Being he was in the way of her exit, she began to stride towards the far door that would lead her to the stairs and down to the front lobby…of course, to her, it felt more like she was stumbling at the moment.

“Good evening, Ms. Lancaster,” he said as she came closer.  His steel-gray eyes lifted to greet her with a slight grin and nod.

“Mr. Haynes,” she returned the greeting, and her blue eyes looked down on the short man for a brief moment before she pulled them away.  “Oh yes, before I forget…”

He stopped and turned to face her.  “Yes?”

“The projector bulb is gone in my class.  I need it for tomorrow.”

“Of course, Ms. Lancaster.”  His eyes burned through her.

She turned and got to the door with a slight grin.  Thoughts of getting home to her condo and sitting in front of the fire with a glass of red began to calm her mind.  She made it down the stairs and into the lobby with thoughts now of her waiting naked.  Exiting the school, her thoughts turned to when he would get home.

Snow fell and muted all to near silence.

She approached the car and hit the lock remote, eliciting a happy honk from the car…obviously pleased she had remembered it.  Slipping behind the wheel and easing in the key, the vehicle purred to life.  She giggled, remembering her instructions to Mr. Haynes and knowing the old man had no clue how to change a projector bulb.

He would, however, find a way to do it…and she would pay for his efforts.

Three hours later, glass of red in one hand and book in the other…not a stitch of clothing on as she thumbed through Neil Peart and Kevin J. Anderson’s novelization of Clockwork Angels…she heard the click of his key in the condo’s deadbolt.  Her smile widened as she turned the page…

“In a world where I feel so small
I can’t stop thinking big…”

She continued reading, hearing him opening the front rolling closet doors to put his coat in and grab something else.

Al Jarreau crooned while Joe Sample tinkled the ivories from the stereo setting something of a romantic mood to the dimly lit room.  The fire cracked it’s agreement of excitement as well.

Two clunks from the hall announced the dropping of his boots and his descent into stealth mode as he would find her.

Another page turned as she read on about the watchmaker.  Then, without warning, she felt the spiked leather collar being slipped around her neck.  Trying to hide her smile, she closed the book and said, “Good evening, Mr. Haynes.”

The old man’s voice greeted her from behind, “Good evening, Ms. Lancaster.”  He tightened the collar and attached the leash to her lead.  “That was a bad thing you did.”

Her eyes lowered to the floor.  “I know, master.”  Briefly her eyes lifted as they caught sight of the vampire gloves he began slipping on his hands.

“You will be punished.”

She suppressed her smile once more.  “Thank you, sir.”

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