My knees crumple instantly, unable to support the tremors in my legs around the intense throbbing between them. I slump to the floor, unbound from Frost’s cinch hold yet deprived of release. I watch him adjust his pants as I pant from the floor, shame incinerating every part of me. The contrast between our dispositions is so stark, it’s almost surreal. Frost is collected, zipping himself back up and falling into step without a hitch while I literally can’t even stand. So, I continue to watch in disbelieving, stunned silence save for the panting. Watch him walk over to pick up the crop that must’ve found its way to the floor at some point in the chaos. He returns with it to pull out a timer from his pocket with his other hand, holding it up in front of me. My mind races, trying to process the whirlwind of thoughts and emotions flooding my consciousness.

His voice cuts through the tension-laden air, a mixture of cold detachment and calculated control. “You held on for nine minutes,” he states, his eyes piercing into mine. The stopwatch perched between his long fingers glares at me with its menacing glow as if to mimic its handler, its digits etching the duration of my struggle in stark clarity. I look on to the depiction of how long I held onto the “electron” as it continues to hang from the chain still tethered to my clamped nipples. Nine minutes and thirteen seconds stretch before my eyes like an eternity of asking the impossible, each number a summation of both my success and subsequent failure. And then…

“Therefore, your punishment will be nine lashes.”

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