Chapter 1 A couple goes into the pub ahead of me; my age, normal looking, in love --- not like me; chaste, collared, single. Boozy conversation escapes into the street then the door closes. I stop at the steps to stomp the snow off my shoes. My cold-shrunken penis flops around inside the Chaste Maker cage. The NHS installed it four years ago, but this time next year it’ll be gone. I just have to keep my head down and avoid getting drawn into a relationship with somebody who prefers me this way. “Oh hello, Brad. How’s the eunuch thing working for you?” Damn, it’s square-jawed Roger. Posh as they come, and oozing wealth from his overcoat to his brogues. The girl with him giggles. “Eunuch? Ewww.” “It’s chaste,” I say. “I’ve still got my dick, but at least I’m not a dick.” Roger laughs. “Very good, Jones, very good.” He sweeps the girl inside leaving me standing out in the cold. I’ve known him since university, but he still makes me feel like a loser. Another couple arrives --- two women this time. I follow them in, through the empty pub, up the stairs leading to the function room. The woman on the left has a short skirt that swishes around the top of plump legs. I lavish my gaze on her curves. I’ve been the unicorn before. Chastes get interesting invites, just not to sleep over... or at least I rarely do. My love life in the last four years has been, “Slurp, squelch, thank you, man.” Great fun, though --- I reflect as I glimpse her plump rear sheathed in warm tights --- but I’ve had enough of the frustration. And, frankly, being a chaste in your thirties is embarrassing. The cloakroom girl is young --- early twenties, has that student look --- and distinctive long red hair framing a long face. Her green eyes meet mine. My cock has warmed up by now. It twitches speculatively as I hand over my coat. I can’t help asking. “Sorry, don’t I recognise you?” There’s a moment of assessment, then she looks away. I’m used to this: too big an age gap unless I’m a keeper, and something about me says I’m not a keeper. “I don’t think so, sir.” “My mistake." I glance around. I’m the only chaste at the party. It’s a sea of men with bare necks. One guy could be a neuter, but I’m not going to stare at his crotch looking for the bump of a cage. I decide to leave on my turtle neck sweater and head towards the bar. “Bradley!” Minnie --- this is her Christmas party --- bounces up to block my path. Spiked hair, big eyes. We’ve been friends since Uni, but never lovers --- even with the cage, I have the wrong tackle for her tastes. “What’s this? Won’t you be too hot?” She’s already drunk and thinks nothing of tugging at the high neck of my sweater, revealing the glass collar that’s ringed my neck for the last four years. “Hey!” “Just checking I hadn’t lost track. Come on, take off the naff Christmas jumper. Chaste Pride!” The coat girl looks up at me, then opens her phone. “Fuck Chaste Pride!” I say. “Come on,” says Minnie. “Half the people here are queer. Be yourself.” I sigh and hand off the sweater to the red haired girl. She’s got HrLckr open, but she won’t find me on the “Chastedar” page. I haven’t opened the app since the start of the month. And I have a little bronze patch over the QR code --- there’s a jeweller in the Orkney Islands that makes them. Very hipster People glance at the collar. Chastes and Neuters have been around for ten years now, so I’m not a freak, but I’m still a novelty in polite company. Minnie has vanished off into the Ladies, so I decide to brazen it out and head for the bar. I should be used to this. As I lean on the bar, a small blond middle-aged woman slips up onto a barstool. “Hello,” she drawls. Her hair is bobbed to her jawline. Red lipstick emphasises a full mouth. Her skin crinkles around her eyes. “I’m Mariella Robinson --- Minnie’s interior designer.” She has a posh drawl, almost hoarse. Something about it tightens my Chaste Maker cage. “Bradley Jones,” I say. “Minnie and I went to uni together. You’re a designer --- I’m a commercial artist.” “And a chaste,” says Mariella. She swivels around to face me and crosses a leg so that her little black dress rides up to uncover a lacy stocking top. “Let me buy you a drink---” While Mariella orders two single malts, I try to tear my gaze away from her crossed legs. She has a yoga body, shallow curves made of lithe sinews. I wonder what she tastes like, and my lost cock throbs forlornly in its cage. I should be used to this by now! But I can’t look away until she hands me a glass of peaty whisky. “Cheers,” drawls Mariella. “So how long have you been a chaste?” “Four years. One to go.” She nods. “Is it true that you can’t get off?” My cheeks burn. I nod. “Believe me, I know how that feels. Thirty years of marriage, and no fireworks in the bedroom. Mind you...” She uncrosses her legs, leans closer, fixes me with her blue eyes. Her breath is hot my face. “I’ve always had my vibrator. They don’t work on you do they?” I shake my head. Something about pressure points. Anal doesn’t work either. The skin around her eyes crinkles. “Poor boy. You must be a walking horn.” “I go to the gym a lot,” I say. Perhaps I can change the subject to yoga or something. Mariella reaches out and squeezes my biceps. “So I see.” She sips her whisky. “There were no chastes back when I got married. Now I’m divorced, I think I have catching up to do.” “Bradley!” It’s Minnie again. She has her girlfriend in tow, willowy Wendy. They are the perfect couple. “Come on, there’s somebody I want you to meet.” Then to Mariella. “Sorry, I’m going to steal him away.” “Wait,” says Mariella. She slips off the stool and beams up at me, wide lips curved --- she’s slightly shorter than me, though taller than Minnie. “Brad? What’s your HrLckr handle?” “ArtBoy99,” says Minnie, “Come on Brad.” “Hey,” I say as we navigate the crowd. “You didn’t have to tell her.” “But you don’t need to accept a date,” said Minnie. “It’s not like you’re some ravening manslut. And I’ve got just the girl for you. Recently divorced. Partner at my firm. Intense the way you like them.” “Divorced? Another Mariella?” “More your age range.” We’re heading towards a model-tall woman with long brown hair cascading over the back of a black velvet dress. She’s turned away from us, and there’s something about the way she stands, legs slightly braced, diamante heels plated firmly, that makes her own the space around her. “Look,” I say. “I’m in my last year of chaste. I don’t want to get into a relationship with somebody who...” “Prefers her men without a dick?” says Minnie. “Don’t worry. Caroline is really square.” Caroline turns. The dress has a V neckline that shows off a little cleavage. “Did I hear my name?” Her brown eyes flick to my collar then away. “Oh,” says Minnie. “I was saying Bradley should ask you to model for him.” She looks at me down her elegant nose. “You’re a photographer?” “Artist,” I say, and my god I would like to paint her, or just run my hands over her long limbs. My cock pulses, making my hips twitch reflexively. Caroline flushes behind her perfect make up. Her face stiffens and her cheekbones suddenly seem harsh and angular. I realise I’m grinning up at her like a labrador. Words fall out of my mouth. “Commercial artist in my day job - advertising, though it can be quite creative --- but I have had the odd exhibition... I mean paintings in exhibitions and...” Mariella’s eyes bore into me I’m babbling. Worse, Minnie has abandoned me. “And you’re a lawyer?” I ask, trying to change tack but keep the conversation going with this beautiful woman. “International Maritime Law,” says Caroline. “It’s quite technical,” she adds, as if to say it would be all over my pretty little head. It is over my head. But actually, I quite like that. “You must be much smarter than me.” “Perhaps.” She points at my collar. “What’s the law around this specific... installation?” “You know about CARGO?” “Strangely, I am indeed aware of the 2013 Consenting Adults Relationships, Gender and Orientation Act. I meant specifically the apparatus.” I finger the glass collar. “It’s criminal damage to remove it, and criminal deception to wear one if you’re not... um.” I squirm. “Not what?” I nod down at my caged crotch. “Not done down there. And the only surgeons licensed to remove it are part of the CARGO Programme.” Caroline’s eyes twinkle. “Then I am smarter than you,” she says. “I can’t imagine getting myself in such a predicament.” Her nose wrinkles. “Was this to gratify some sort of fetish?” My cheeks burn. It’s true I used to jerk off to this kind of thing, but it’s not that simple. “I... I like women,” I say and feel like a sticky cocked idiot. I really do want this thing off. “And, do women like you this way?” I notice Mariella hovering nearby. “Some do,” I say. “But...” “I suppose it is safe sex,” says Caroline. “And does this... lifestyle make you happy?” “Not any more,” I say. “One year to go, and I’m out.” “Will women like you then?” “I...” I shrug stupidly. “I don’t know.” “Well at least you’ll have self-gratification.” Somebody taps a glass. It’s Minnie, standing on a chair, for once taller than Willowy Wendy who’s holding her hand. “Quiet everybody! Quiet. We’ve got an announcement.” They raise their joined hands. Diamonds flash in the light. Everybody cheers. When people settle down a bit. “It’s just going to be a small family wedding --- my mum’s getting on a bit,” says Wendy. “Then we’re off around the world,” says Minnie. “And we’ll see some of you at the Class of 2020 reunion.” Shit! The ten years reunion. I’m going to feel like a bloody loser if I go, and they’ll know I’m a loser if I don’t. I turn to find Caroline. Imagine turning up with her on my arm! But Roger has moved in and somehow made her laugh. Mariella pops up. She’s brandishing mistletoe. “Merry Christmas!” What the hell. I stoop to kiss her. Her tongue flicks my lips. Her hands go round the back of my neck. Her small breasts press into my shirt. My caged cock goes off like an air bag. I slide my tongue past her lips, brush her small sharp teeth and we smooch like teenagers. Somebody --- must be Roger --- cheers and there’s general laughter. Mariella detaches, grabs my hand. “Come on, ArtBoy99, my place is just around the corner.” I let her lead me away from the party. At least I know this is just a one-night-stand. ------------------------------- What do you think? Should I finish this?