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Bound to Lose

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"Have you got another task for me, Paul Williams?"

"I sure have, Jeremy Wells. And this is a task some of the cast enjoyed... a little too much."

He tapped the iPad to roll the VT, fervently hoping no-one would realise that technically, "the cast" included him.

"Put Paul in a predicament. Best predicament wins. You have thirty minutes. Your time starts now."

Madeleine looked up from the task, tapping it thoughtfully against her arm, and fixed Paul with an appraising stare, a smile playing at the corners of her mouth. Paul carefully remained as blank as ever, even as his skin started to prickle. He knew that Mads' tough-gal act wasn't calculated to appeal to the likes of him, but it had an effect nonetheless.

"I know what I'm gonna do," she declared. "And it's not exactly gonna be original. But this is an opportunity I can't pass up."

She strode off in the direction of the shed, and Paul waited, aimless and gormless, dutifully providing the appropriate reaction shots as she rummaged and clanked. When she emerged, she was clutching a bundle of rope.

She set off decisively across the field back towards Paul, and then swept straight past him. "Come on," was all she said, a twinkle in her eye, and he obediently followed.

It soon became apparent that their destination was what the crew had dubbed the "sexy tree", standing proud and broad-trunked in the middle of the field. And it was also becoming apparent, at least to Paul, what was probably about to happen.

Mads tossed down the rope, and casually took hold of Paul's shoulders. "Stand there," she commanded, backing him carelessly into the tree, and he felt another little prickle as he found himself pressed against the rough bark. "Legs further apart," she ordered, kicking at his black patents, and he clumsily complied. Then, with a satisfied nod, she knelt down, and reached for a length of rope.

Paul tried very hard to focus on his breathing. Normally, this wasn't a problem. Normally, he could turn off this part of his brain during filming. He would have been a fool to take this job if he couldn't. Oh, afterwards he might secretly, happily mull over the day's humiliations, but on set, under the glare of the cameras, he was strictly professional. Normally.

Madeleine finished securing the rope around his left ankle, and stretched it across the base of the tree to his right. He wondered in surprise where she'd learnt such effective knots, then wished he hadn't. The thing was... the thing was... usually there were a few steps removed. Usually the humiliation came from comedy, from absurdity, and he could focus on those aspects and ignore the undertones. But this... this was just straight-up bondage.

The studio audience was laughing in full force now, fully aware of where Mads was going with this, and eager to watch it play out. Paul stared fixedly at the enormous image of himself on the screen, awash with paranoia, searching his own unforgivingly blown-up face for the tells he knew were there. He hoped against hope they weren't cutting to him for reactions. He was convinced he was giving himself away, twice over.

Mads pulled the ends of the rope tight to knot them behind the trunk, and Paul nearly fell over from the jolt, almost dropping his iPad as he clutched at the tree for balance. "Stand still, you idiot," she tutted, which didn't help at all. He was starting to feel... stirrings. There were about six cameras trained on him (watching the scene, recording his humiliation) and he was... they would all see. Would they broadcast this? His mind whirled in panic. Would they play this in the studio? Let the others grill him about it? What would they say? Jeremy... his own brother?

Mads stood up, businesslike, probably blocking the line of sight of two of the cameras at least, smallest of small mercies for which Paul felt disproportionately grateful, and then she said, "Put that down."

Paul glanced at his precious iPad, and seized with both hands the opportunity for a bit, something to distract his treacherous mind. "I..." he stammered, "I need it."

"I can't tie you up properly if you're holding it. Put it down."

"I need it to time you," he insisted, feeling himself start to inhabit the quietly-obstructive assistant's persona, feeling himself regaining control.

"You can still see the time if you put it down," Madeleine snapped - and then she grabbed it, and tried to wrestle it out of his hands.

Paul knew he was on a hiding to nothing - one yank too hard and he'd be flat on his face - but he held on anyway, mulish. "The iPad is my responsibility," he whined. "It's very important."

At last, Mads twisted it out of his grip - and then, to his utter astonishment, she took hold of his belt, and shoved the iPad straight down the front of his trousers.

"Now you don't need your hands," she smirked, as he stared at her, open-mouthed, red numbers ticking away the awkward seconds from his waistband, and a hot flush of mortification crawling all the way up his spine.

The studio audience went wild for that, of course. No way they wouldn't come to him for a reaction shot now. He ducked his head, trying to hide his face, praying his body language would come off as run-of-the-mill awkward embarrassment. Everything sounded so loud: the audience's laughter, the mocking background music, the blood rushing in his ears.

Having got the iPad out of her way, Mads wasted no time in pressing on with her plan. She grabbed Paul's wrists, and he couldn't help himself - the softest of moans escaped his gaping lips as she wrenched his arms round behind the tree. In the studio, he winced in tandem with his own recorded image, convinced everyone would have heard, would have understood exactly what that moan signified. Madeleine knotted a second length of rope around his wrists, just as briskly efficient as before, and finally, inevitably, he was trapped.

There was a moment of stillness - save for Paul's heart, which was racing like a jackhammer. He was... he was tied to a tree. There were six cameras filming him, a whole crew staring at him, and an iPad stuffed down his trousers. In one important respect at least, he was very, very conscious of that last bit. He could feel himself pressing against it, the smoothness, the unyielding solidity; a makeshift restraint which - unlike the others - even Mads didn't know she'd imposed upon him. He tried not to blush. No-one would see, now, that he was getting overexcited, and his body took eager advantage of this newfound safety; but, oh, the shame of it.

Madeleine was just standing there, arms folded, expression smug, surveying her handiwork. The silence stretched out, and eventually, out-of-character though it might have been, Paul felt compelled to fill it.

"This is... definitely a predicament," he commented, shifting awkwardly. Mads just nodded.

He frowned. On top of everything else, this suddenly felt like an irritating role-reversal. "Shall I stop the timer?" he asked, even though he didn't want to think about exactly how he would do that.

"No," she said, simply.

Paul was at a loss. He glanced around at the crew, who just looked back expectantly. He craned his neck to try and read the iPad (feeling the stretch in his arms, feeling how helpless he was), and although the second digits were buried below his belt, he could see there were a good twenty minutes left.

He turned imploringly towards the nearest camera operator. "Could you... untie me, please?"

"No, don't do that," Mads cut in curtly. "Nobody untie him. I haven't finished yet."

And still, she didn't move.

What followed was perhaps the most excruciating twenty minutes of Paul's life. Very little of it made it onto the VT, naturally, but what they had cut together - long, lingering shots of absolutely nothing happening - was more than enough to bring it all rushing back. The audience giggled at first, confused and second-hand-embarrassed; then they fell into a dissatisfied silence; then, gradually, they realised what the true predicament was, and a slow wave of delighted laughter rolled across the studio, building to a clapping crescendo as it flooded the stage. Paul felt like he was drowning in it.

All he could do was stand there, limbs taut against the ropes, dick taut against the iPad, counting the agonising seconds, and hoping to God that his arousal wasn't showing on his face. He felt so exposed. He felt so ashamed. Did this woman have any idea what she was doing to him?

At around the ten-minute mark, he asked, "Have you finished yet?", and, predictably, she answered, "No". Also predictably, this made the edit.

Eventually, she stepped forward, picked up the whistle that hung from his neck, and said, "You're gonna need this in a minute." And then she pushed it between his lips, and he was too surprised to do anything but take it, unresisting, eyes wide. He couldn't let it go, now. He knew that. The assistant needed his whistle, and Mads had been considerate enough to pass it to him, and letting it drop again would have been the height of rudeness. And so now, as well as being bound, he was effectively gagged. His dick strained against the iPad, and he fought down the impulse to squirm, desperately turned on, and desperate not to show it.

He glanced down. There were still three full minutes left.

Finally, mercifully, the timer began to approach zero. Paul had to sort of guess at the last few milliseconds, hidden as they were inside his formalwear, but he figured it was close enough, and blew his whistle, letting it drop from his mouth with a gasp of exhaustion.

"Aaaand I'm done," Mads grinned, turning to leave. "You can untie him now, folks."

As various members of the crew drifted forward, Paul realised with a stab of shame: he had to say it.

"Thank you, Madeleine."

The last shot of the VT showed Paul, from a discreet distance, extricating the iPad from his trousers. His back was, very firmly, turned.

Paul just about survived the gleeful post-task analysis, rife with innuendo though it was. By some miracle, nobody had noticed his compromised state (or if they had, he thought with a blush, they hadn't been cruel enough to mention it). Several of the others had loudly delighted in Madeleine's act of revenge, forcefully expressing their dislike of the ever-present, ever-unhelpful assistant. Paul had weathered the pile-on with as much equanimity as he could muster in his fragile frame of mind, simply thankful he wasn't being bullied for anything worse.

"Mads, much as we enjoyed your effort," Jeremy declared when it came to the scoring, "you were right - there was a shocking lack of originality. I can only give you one point."

"Worth it," Mads smirked. And for a second, just for a second, she stared straight at Paul, her sly gaze boring into him, as if daring him to agree.

Paul carefully remained as blank as ever, even as he subtly repositioned the iPad on his lap.