Long day. It was the end of a long day, at the end of a long week, and Rachel was tired. Worn out, feet aching, she had opted out of the Friday Club-a-thon with work friends, riding home to her small flat, grabbing the fixings of a quick dinner at the corner market next to the bus stop.
Shimmying out of her knee-length blue skirt even as the apartment door was closing, she kicked it toward the bedroom door as she placed her groceries on the kitchenette counter. She undid her white, frilly “Friday” blouse with one hand while arranging dinner with the other, tossing the garment, and then her bra, in the general direction of the bedroom as she put the fixings in the microwave.
While the little carousel spun dinner around to be heated, she peeled off her hose – carefully! these were her last pair without runs – and panties with a sigh of relief, and placed them with a little more care in her drawer before rummaging around for her “No-one sees me in these” bum-around clothes. The old pink gym shorts had holes and rips, almost revealing more than they concealed. The equally worn black T-shirt, stolen long ago from a high-school sweetheart, had a stylized horse’s head of the team’s mascot, mane streaming in imaginary wind, faded with age and a million washings.
Dinner dinged as she was finishing washing her minimal makeup from her face, and she settled on her couch – a love-seat really, curling her feet under her to eat the noodley-veggie concoction and watch mindless Friday night TV. A glass of inexpensive, but reasonably tasty red wine rounded things out. In her private space, the tensions of the day and the week finally began to drain away; like air escaping from an over-full ballon. Tonight she wouldn’t even bother with the net – no more screen reading or gossiping until Monday.
The meal done, she put the bowl on the side table next to the couch, and with a melancholy sigh, stretched her feet out onto the hassock that doubled as her coffee table.
In mid-exhalation she felt the faintest touch, little more than a warm breeze, or the barest grazing of a fingertip, on her shoulders. Rachel’s breath caught, startled, before she let it the rest of the way out. The touch became firmer, more solid as she breathed in again, taking definition behind her collarbone and on the back of her neck. It began to knead the tight muscles of her neck and her upper back, her shoulder-blades and shoulders. Rachel had registered all those little aches and knots forming during the week, but now the memory of them flared and intensified just as the soothing massage broke them down and banished them. Just the right pressures, turns, and stretches applied to each hard knot, just long enough to work the tight muscle to butter softness. Some of the knots submitted only with difficulty, and Rachel winced at the firm, pressing strokes breaking them down. Each grimace ended with a sigh, however, as the net effect melted away recognized and unrealized tensions alike.
The sensations, like fingers of strong hands, moved from her neck to her upper arms, treating the biceps and triceps with the same firm, but tender care. Rachel let her head loll against the couch back, looking up and back. As expected, she saw nothing. There was no torso and head where there would be if the caresses on her arms were from actual hands. She knew that if she looked down she’d be able to see – barely – dark wavery shapes the size of fingers, veined with faint greenish glows, pressing against her skin. But she didn’t want to look, not now. She knew her Haunter was back. That was the name she’d given it. She drew in a deep, uncertain breath as the touch of the ghostly tendrils moved to her front – gently rubbing from the bottom of her neck to her solar plexus. What she didn’t know was what this visit would be like…
Tension threatened to re-tighten her muscles as she thought back, but the ghostly touch worked to soothe her against that, moving to her temples and scalp, weaving through her hair in a way fingers were simply incapable of doing. It took a minute for her to even realize that her feet were _also_ receiving attention. A kneading of the arch of her left foot, then the right, followed by a gentle swirling pressure on her heels sent a wave of relief through the aching feet. Rachel’s body relaxed, even if her mind could not go there so quickly.
She had not been… visited… for several weeks now, and the last time had been quite different than this. The memory of it made her shudder and blush slightly. She wondered what would happen if she tried to shake free of it now. In times past, the spectral touch had sometimes responded to her demurring and faded rapidly to nothing. Other times, it had refused, the many limbed embrace becoming a gentle, binding prelude to…
No. Rachel shook those memories off. It is not that they were unpleasant per se. Far from it. The thing that haunted her had never harmed her. Quite the opposite. The things she had experienced under his – she believed it had to be a ‘he’ of some sort – attentions had been at turns thrilling and humbling, exiting and potentially maddening. But if she was embarrassed or ashamed at the feelings he evoked and unlocked in her, she was also freed by them. And there was a strange intimacy and privacy in the whole affair. Many months ago, the first time she had tried to cry out for help, a gentle but unyielding probe had filled her mouth and effectively gagged her as her body and reality were manipulated with frightening ease into terrifying pleasure. Since then, no matter the intensity of the encounter, her phantom ensured that no signs or sound or evidence of his visits would escape their intimate space and time.
As her thoughts wandered through these almost dangerous memories, so too did the touch of the many tendril. Done with a thorough rubbing down of her feet, attending every toe, every hollow, every ache, smooth, faintly glowing tendrils now worked the muscles of her calves. They were slowly, slowly working their way higher on her legs, obeying the therapeutic rules of pushing the blood toward the heart. At the same time, more prehensile limbs, finger-with, but impossibly longer, worked her hands and lower arms, moving up slowly towards her shoulders. All these touches were simply wonderful. And, despite the intimacy of some of the pressure points there was an amazingly non-sexual feel to the entire thing. It felt like a squad of not-quite-human masseurs had convened to work on her professionally and completely.
She found her self sighing, breathing deeply, melting into the couch. This time, he was not teasing her, making seductive advances, cajoling her, taking her by main force, or anything. She felt he was simply there for her. Then… why was a tiny tingle of excitement racing down her spine?
Rachel’s arms seemed to be floating now. Dozens of semitransparent tendrils wove around them, rubbing and soothing from her finger tips to her shoulders. Out of the corner of her eyes it looked like her arms had been engulfed by a waving mass of anemone-like tentacles. These extended down past her hands and disappeared in a greenish haze that partially obscured the room beyond.
Her legs were slowly disappearing in two more bundles of tendrils as they ascended her legs – somehow managing to touch and not tickle the hypersensitive backs of her knees to her mid-thighs. And she imagined a similar stream of tendrils extending toward her head and neck, as the massaging of her scalp and temples continued.
The couch itself, it seemed, had sprouted limbs of its own, because she also felt firm pressures on her upper and lower back – like a perfectly designed massage chair, kneading and twisting the knots and soreness she didn’t know she’d had. Even her sides – ribcage, hipbones… Rachel had had no idea so many little things had needed attention and soothing on her body.
It was so engulfing, so inclusive, and yet not erotic. As effective as the tendrils were at their techniques, they were missing – avoiding on purpose? the types of caresses that could be considered sexual. Rachel had many erogenous zones – a large number of which had been discovered – pioneered – and mercilessly exploited by her Specter. But now, he was avoiding them – or touching them in ways that felt good, but not *that* way.
She wondered why? Then she wondered at the twinge of disappointment that he *wasn’t* touching her that way. She *wanted* him to make a move on her? What was the matter with her? She would accept this… peace offering for what she hoped it was. She wasn’t going to seduce *herself* into the depravities she fought so valiantly and hopelessly against so many other times.
Her mind was clearly getting more worked up… But her body was quite the opposite. The tendrils were very good at what they were doing. Every tension and ache was being erased from her. Even the new ones the turmoil of her thoughts threatened to bring out were smoothed away as they happened.
In her minds eye, Rachel saw her body almost engulfed in the waving forest of tentacles. They now were in contact and stroking every part of her *except* the sexual areas. She must have been floating above the couch at least a few inches, supported by the tendrils, arms wide to the side, legs only slightly apart. It felt absolutely wonderful, and calming, and relaxing.
A tiny trickle of moisture dripped from between her legs. She shifted a tiny bit, raising and lowering her left leg… The sliding, slippery sensation that raced through her crotch told her she was sopping wet inside. Rachel’s eyes opened wide as the intensity of her arousal, all but hidden until now, hit her full force.
Her cheeks burned with embarrassment as the telltale signs finally bubbled to awareness. Her breathing had changed from the deep inhalations of relaxation to something faster, more sensual. Her body was moving as well; back arching, knees bending – and slowly continuing to drift apart of their own accord.
Rachel was shocked at her own reaction. She had the impulse to recoil; pull herself into a ball and make it all go away despite how good she was feeling. But she didn’t. She didn’t want to. Even so she could feel herself blushing at what she *did* want.
She tried to ignore it. The massage was making her lethargic. Her muscles were too tired now. That’s what she told herself.
For some time she didn’t move; couldn’t make herself go either way. The tendrils wonderfully, efficiently, maddeningly worked her muscles to butter softness, creating the pleasure of vanished pain, while scrupulously avoiding other kinds. Yet despite the lack of stimulation, Rachel grew hotter with each passing minute. It crossed her mind that this could be another phantom game, playing with her by *not* playing with her. Making her want that which she had fought (and lost) against so many times before. The problem was, if that were true, it was working.
Finally, without thinking about the decision, she shook her arms from the loose grip of the tentacles. They let her go reluctantly, reaching after her as she slipped her arms free, but not ensnaring her like they could – like they had before. She was still supported some inches above her couch by a springy bed of ghostly tendrils, but that didn’t concern her. She grabbed the bottom of her T-shirt and peeled it off over her head. The limbs cradling her back and head let it pass as she pulled. Then, after only a small hesitation, she reached down and shucked off her dampening shorts. Like an anemone in an ocean current, the tentacles around her legs made way for the dilapidated garment, neither helping nor hindering her, until they fell from her toes.
Now completely nude, Rachel slowly leaned back into the embrace of the phantom limbs, opening her arms out to either side, letting her legs part. She surrendered herself to what may come, hoping it would come soon. The sea of limbs enveloped her arms again, flowing over them to her shoulders. They cradled her head as she settled back, forcing herself to breathe deeply, fighting the impulse to moan in frustration.
They were all over her – almost. Her muscles were putty, her skin fully sensitized. The tendrils slid smoothly over her, everywhere but her pleasure centers. It was almost becoming maddening, the nerves in those few untouched parts of her body crying out for attention. Her ghostly visitor was a tormenter again in a new and entirely unexpected way – because it would *not*.
She was not going to ask. Having him force her to pleasure, coax her despite her resistance or desires, making her body and mind betray her by overwhelming her senses – that was one thing. *Asking* it to do those things to her with her in full possession of her faculties was another thing entirely. Rachel… could take care of herself. That would show him.
Rachel freed her right arms again so that she could begin her own little play of self-pleasure… Or rather, she tired to. This time the tendrils surrounding her arms were much more reluctant to let her go. They resisted. She pulled harder, gaining some ground, but she was so tired… so weak from the week, and from the full body massage. She might have been able to free herself if she really fought. But she couldn’t bring herself to. With a whimper of frustration, she stopped pulling, and the tendrils flowed back up her arms and legs to continue their work.
The little ember of fear that usually accompanied her ghost lover’s first signs of restraint failed to form inside her. Perhaps it was her state of lethargic arousal. Perhaps it was a confidence – or at least a belief – that she *could* escape this time if she wanted to. But escape would mean that the warm, cradling rub would stop, and she’d be left to her own devices. It was too nice to want to stop… but she wanted more.
She realized her legs had drifted wide apart now. With her back arched and thighs spread, she was open as if ready to welcome a lover into her, but no lover was there. She felt drops of her own honey trickle down her perineum into the cleft of her rear. She tried to close her legs so that she could rub her thighs together, but as she expected, the limbs coiled around them wouldn’t let her.
Rachel looked down her body, nearly covered in translucent wormy tendrils, squirming over her in their massage work. It would have looked repulsive if they had been any more corporeal. Only her breasts, and the glistening nexus of her legs were being left untouched – and thus bare and exposed in the light of her living space. And the way she was moving. Her body assumed a wanton, beseeching position, pelvis raised and inviting open to any eyes that might have been in the vicinity. She knew he saw her. And he was doing nothing. He was waiting. She knew it now. She could send him away with a word, or a real fight (she needed to believe that). Or…
She’d told herself she wouldn’t. She knew her blush had spread from her face down her chest. Butterflies fluttered in her stomach as she opened her mouth. Only he would be able to hear her hoarsely whispered