Natalie hates living in Wesley House, where an infestation in the plumbing leads to tentacles boiling up from the shower drains and girls sighing suspiciously above the hiss of running water. She’s not one of the perverted Hentai girls—the ones who like living in Wesley—and there’s no place in her controlled life for that sort of pleasure or abandon. She focuses on her violin lessons, her marine biology studies, and her petition for a new room assignment. When a group of girls force her to encounter the tentacles, however, Natalie discovers a scientific puzzle. Instead of the rapacious beast she expected, she finds a vulnerable creature in need. Trying to help it leads to Natalie’s first taste of rebellion, her first experiences of being seen as a “hot girl,” and her first awakening to sexual pleasure.
Touching FreedomAuthor(s): Annabeth Leong
$2.99Novella (10,000 words)
Ebook Edition (Available in epub, mobi & pdf.)
Publication date: March 17, 2015
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“Cora, this is crazy,” Natalie begged. “Please. You don’t really want to do this.”
“Sweetie, quit being coy.” Natalie recognized the brunette. Her raucous voice came through the door, thick with the effects of alcohol. “We’re giving you permission to do what you really want. Go on.”
“No. I really don’t want to.”
“We don’t believe you,” one girl replied in singsong tones.
There was more laughter, then Cora said, “These girls are getting bored out here. If you don’t do something entertaining soon, I’m going to have to come in there and make it interesting.”
Natalie gripped the door handle involuntarily, wondering now if she could hold it closed. There was no way she could win that battle against the girls in the hallway, though. She searched for possible escape routes. The bathroom’s one window might not be large enough to squeeze through, and even if she could, she had no way to get down three stories. If her shouting hadn’t alerted anyone so far, she didn’t see how it could help her now.
The thought of the shower stalls made Natalie’s stomach roil again. She wondered if the girls would have mercy if they found her emptying her guts into one of the toilets.
“Natalie, I don’t hear any water…” The sugary tone covering Cora’s threat only made it more frightening. Adrenaline replaced nausea for Natalie.
She borrowed a set of toiletries from one of the bathroom’s cubbies, selected a shower stall, and pulled back its curtain.
Nothing leaped out immediately. The light fixture hummed. The scariest thing Natalie saw was mildew gathered at the corners of the shower and around the drain. She allowed herself to hope the creature really was just a story after all. Or, even if it was real, Natalie thought there might be a chance it wouldn’t appear this time. She stashed the toiletries within reach and turned on the water, ready to take the fastest shower of her life.
Natalie washed the makeup off her face as quickly as she could, figuring Cora would definitely check that. Before she could rinse the soap from her temples, the creature appeared, one thin, pale tentacle licking up through the drain cover.
Natalie screamed and jumped out of the shower, running to the door and pounding on it. “Let me out of here now, God damn it! This isn’t funny! Please!” Tears of panic flooded her eyes.
The girls on the other side of the door only laughed. “Get back in the shower, Natalie, or I’ll come in and watch you,” Cora threatened.
“I can’t. Please.” She danced from foot to foot, afraid to remain still. She kept imagining slimy sensations, as if that tentacle was already touching her. It didn’t matter that the scientist in her knew better—her horror at this creature had nothing to do with science.
“I can. And I will.”
The girls howled with delight. “You’ll thank us later!” someone promised.
Natalie knew she had no chance of talking Cora down from her determination—not with all the others there, feeding off Natalie’s misery and egging Cora on.
Sobbing and hiccupping, Natalie made her way back to the shower stall, in time to see the thin tentacle complete an exploration of the stall’s floor, then wind deftly through the holes in the drain cover and lift it away, creating an opening large enough to allow three much thicker tentacles to rise through the drain as well. These, too, began to feel around the shower. Rings of muscle rippled under pale skin as they moved, and occasionally a knob bubbled onto the surface, then disappeared. Natalie shivered. Could they be searching for her?
Even adrenaline and fear of the girls couldn’t push Natalie to step any closer. She stood frozen, staring at the tentacles.
“If I don’t hear a shower echo around your voice in thirty seconds, I’m coming in there,” came her torturer’s voice through the door. “It won’t hurt you.” The girls outside began to count.
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