Part 5 – Near disaster
15 A less successful outing
Another surprise was that when they got into the car Matthew didn’t head for home but in the opposite direction, but he said nothing so Michelle decided to wait to see where they ended up.
She found out when they drove through Leighton Buzzard and ended up at a wharf on the canal. Matthew parked the car and led her to the waterside where a narrow boat was waiting to give visitors a trip along the canal.
Michelle walked up the gangplank with no problems but then found that there was a big step down into the boat which she couldn’t manage. Matthew saw her problem quickly and took her round the waist, swinging her down into the boat. As he helped her aboard Matthew explained to Michelle:
“This boat is owned by a friend of mine, so we are going on one of his public trips but after that is over we have it for the rest of the day to ourselves – except that he will be here as our helmsman. I know we won’t be quite alone, but I thought it would make a nice change from the Downs, and if it gets too hot you can stay under cover.”
Michelle looked and saw that the boat was about half open with seats either side of a gangway and half roofed with seats around a long narrow table. She decided to take a seat outside, and led the way toward the bow, where they would have a good view of the countryside.
With so many people on board, Michelle didn’t speak for the whole trip, but Matthew pointed out things of interest as they passed. He seemed to know quite a lot about the canal, which surprised Michelle as he had never mentioned the subject before. Once again she was feeling pretty warm, but every so often the boat would glide past trees which shaded the canal, so it was never so hot that she wanted to move inside. With her restricted vision she had to turn her head a lot to see things, and then to look at Matthew as he spoke, but it was something she was beginning to get used to. She wondered though how it would have been if she had been wearing a neck brace and forced to look straight ahead. Again, Matthew’s offer had her thinking about whether she wanted to try it or not, and if so why. She was torn by wanting to be just as restricted as Narita and never wanting to veil again. She knew the latter was not an option and that for work at least she was committed to veiling for the foreseeable future, which didn’t worry her, but she was really not sure if she wanted to spend all her time veiled.
As she was musing the boat pulled into a wharf. Most of the passengers got off, but Matthew suggested to Michelle that they stay aboard, since the purpose of the stop was a visit to a pub for a drink. He had some drinks and straws with him, and they would avoid the crush. For a few minutes Michelle was preoccupied getting the straw to her mouth, once Matthew had undone one of her mittens, and she was surprised to look up and see a man who was evidently the boat owner standing looking down at her.
“Welcome aboard, you must be Matthew’s girlfriend,” he began, “I’m Peter and your captain for the day. I hope you have a nice time. Matthew has told me that you will not speak in public, so don’t feel embarrassed. And once the paying passengers have gone, I’ll simply take the boat wherever Matthew asks and keep out of your way, but if you need anything I am here.”
By the time the passengers returned Michelle was once again helpless in her mittens and snuggling against Matthew. The boat headed off for a few yards and then did a slow three point turn at a point where the canal widened for the purpose. Matthew told her that this was called a winding hole. Then they were heading back to the wharf at Leighton Buzzard. Now the sun was on the other side of the boat, and Michelle was shaded by Matthew, so was really quite glad to be well covered, as a breeze was getting up.
Matthew didn’t say anything the whole trip back except to point out one or two landmarks. Michelle realised from time to time that she had been dozing, comfortable with Matthew’s arm round her. She felt secure and protected, and although she knew she was the only veiled woman on the boat she didn’t feel embarrassed because she knew that she was completely hidden so no-one who didn’t know Matthew would have a clue who she was.
Before she expected the boat arrived back at the starting point and the passengers left. As soon as they were the only passengers Peter came up to Matthew.
“Where to now?” he asked.
“I thought we’d go south and then down the Aylesbury arm,” Matthew responded, “I don’t know how far it is navigable now. Last time I saw it they were doing a lot of work.”
“Let’s give it a go,” replied Peter. “I think you can get to Aylesbury wharf now, but we’ll go slowly so we can get off if we ground, because I don’t really know how much water there is.”
It was really peaceful as they slowly wended their way between fields. Several times, herons flew away at their approach, and they saw scurrying at the bank as water voles hid in their burrows. There were a few fishermen, but Peter gave them as wide a berth as possible and slowed to a crawl so as not to upset their lines.
Then about 100 yards from Aylesbury wharf they touched bottom. Then came off immediately, but Peter decided it was as far as he wanted to risk going so he manoeuvred the narrow boat as near the bank as he could and jumped off with the stern line and a spike. Within seconds he had tethered the boat firmly to the bank and jumped back on board. He slowly moved the boat until it was parallel with the bank, when they all felt it touch bottom, and repeated his mooring procedure at the bow.
“Let’s walk into the town,” suggested Matthew to Michelle, who was happy to get some exercise after sitting for several hours.
Peter manoeuvred the gangplank so they could use it, as there was no way Michelle could jump the gap. Matthew went on shore and held his hand out for Michelle, but of course she couldn’t step up onto the gangplank. Peter saw this and after getting Matthew’s approving nod picked Michelle up and placed her on the sloping plank.
She took a step and then another, and Matthew was reaching out to take her hand when she was close enough, but her khimar prevented her raising her arms far. Then she missed her footing and the next thing Matthew saw was his fiancé toppling sideways off the gangplank into the muddy water. Without thinking he jumped in, finding that the water was not even up to his waist though the bottom was very soft and sloping so that he himself stumbled before he found his footing. But Michelle was completely submerged, so in a panic he reached down and lifted her, sitting her in the water. She was covered in mud but he could tell from her spluttering that she was OK. He climbed onto the bank and pulled her out. It was as much as he could manage, because her clothes had absorbed so much water, but soon she was safely sitting by the boat.
Peter joined him, and together they helped Michelle to stand, and to walk slowly back onto the boat. As soon as she was safely o board, Michelle’s strength ran out and she collapsed. Apart from one high heeled shoe which was showing, there was nothing about the pile of black fabric to show that it was a human being. Peter dived into the cabin and returned with a large blanket which he wrapped around the black shape on the deck of the boat.
“What now?” Matthew asked Peter.
“I think we had better get back to the wharf as soon as possible,” he replied, but was cut off by a call from the bank. They looked up to see that one of the fisherman they had passed was returning home.
In response to the fisherman’s question, Peter explained what had happened.
“Tell you what,” responded the fisherman. “it’s not far out of my way to take you to the wharf on my way home. I assume you have a car there.”
“That would be great,” responded Matthew, “then I could take Michelle straight home. It will be much quicker than taking the boat back. Is that really OK with you?”
“Of course,” responded the fisherman, “we all know Peter and he’s always careful when we are fishing, not like most of them who hire boats. It‘s the least I can do.”
Within half an hour Matthew was back with his car. In the meantime Peter had moved the boat a short distance to a place where he could tie up alongside an old wharf, so there was no gap between boat and land. The two men carefully helped Michelle off the boat and into the car. Peter insisted that she kept the blanket. They could return it later.
“When it has been washed,” laughed Matthew.
It wasn’t until he had let Michelle into her flat that Matthew remembered that she was still wearing her mittens. He disentangled her arms from the blanket and her khimar, released her hands and went to run her a hot bath while she got out of her wet clothes. When she came out of the bedroom wearing her dressing gown Matthew realised that it was the first time for weeks that he had seen her face.
“Am, I allowed to look at you?” he asked, half seriously.
“I think you have earned it this time,” she laughed, “but I don’t want to give you many excuses like this one please. I really thought I might drown. I shall have to be more careful when I am dressed up for you.”
“And I shall have to take more care of you,” responded Matthew, kissing his fiancé’s lips for the first time. “But don’t get cold, Your bath is waiting. I’ll go out and get us some food while you bathe and dress.”
When Michelle left the bathroom dressed in her salwar kameez and pak chador, she saw that the table was laid and there were several cartons of hot food.
“I hope you like Chinese,” said Matthew, because that’s what we have. But I won’t insist you use chopsticks.”
Michelle chuckled at the thought of eating with chopsticks while veiled.
As they ate Matthew told her that she had been invited to visit his parents the following weekend. She could come dressed like now but she should bring something else in case they needed to visit or be visited by relatives who would not understand her lifestyle.
“And so you have a chance to see me unveiled again,” laughed Michelle, “at least that’s less extreme than trying to drown me! But actually I don‘t have anything that isn‘t locked in the wardrobe.”
So the day that had started as a big adventure ended with the two lovers watching television together. They completely forgot about the padlock.
Michelle decided not to tell her parents about the adventures of the day before, at least not her falling in the water. Apart from anything else, she would have to explain her skirt, mittens and hood. However, she decided to choose another pair of Narita’s shoes to wear, this time a bright red pair which she had realised matched her best jacket – which she couldn‘t get at. The only problem was that her outfit didn’t really go with it.
The only difficult time during her visit was when her sister asked her what she wanted her wedding dress to be like. Michelle had thought a little and knew she needed to be veiled to satisfy the terms of the deal with her boss, but she hadn’t thought about how to achieve it. But her sister jolted her out of her thoughts by announcing that she wanted to wear clothes like they were wearing then. Initially their mother looked horrified, but then agreed to at least look into the idea.
“So do you want to wear something similar?” she asked her surprised daughter.
“That would be great if you think it would be acceptable,” responded Michelle. “The only other possibility I had found was a Turkish style dress or rather trousers. I’ll send you some pictures if I can find any on the net. But I’m not sure what kind of veil they normally wear with those clothes.”
So this problem was glossed over for the moment, and Michelle decided not to mention her adventure on the canal, as it would have meant describing the clothes she had been wearing.
16 New recruits
On Monday morning Michelle was surprised to see two women dressed in niqab and chador enter the office and be greeted by her boss. All the rest of the staff except her, Narita and sometimes Adeela wore salwar kameez and pak chadors. But her curiosity was satisfied in only a few minutes when her boss came into the room with the two women and called for silence.
“These are our two newest recruits, Malika and Yalda. Since Anna left I have been trying to replace her and as business is booming we need another staff member too. Please make them welcome.”
It didn’t take long for Michelle to discover that Adeela had had a hand in their recruitment. In fact if she understood right they were both distant relatives. Adeela explained that she had put the word around among her friends because she knew they would be happy to work while veiled.
Michelle was pleased to see that when they stopped for coffee Narita was one of the first to go over to them and welcome them. Obviously she had got over her unwillingness to speak to strangers. But what she also quickly discovered was that she now had three trainees in her care rather than just one. She had to take great care to distinguish between the two newcomers who were wearing almost identical clothes.
As a result it was Friday afternoon before she realised. Adeela had told the two newcomers about their Friday evening social meetings, and they had both said they would like to come along, though it was noticeable that neither of them spoke. Narita was also there, so the conversation was left to only a few of them. By now they were getting used to the looks from other patrons, but there had never been any actual comments. Michelle was beginning to wonder though whether they should find somewhere else, preferably somewhere which didn’t serve alcohol. She put it on her list of things “to do”.
The weekend with Matthew’s parents went better than what she could have dreamed. She wore her pak chador and no veil over her eyes so that her future in-laws could see her eyes. When the subject of her clothes came up, and she explained about the deal with her employer, they were completely supportive, and actually suggested that in future if she visited she could wear whatever veiling she wished. Michelle noticed a small smile on Matthew’s face at this point! Had he set her up so she would always wear her severest veiling when they were together?
Next day the subject of her clothes came up again, when her mother asked if she always wore clothes like her salwar kameez and pak chador. Michelle decided she had better explain about her work clothes. Her parents looked rather nervous, but she could see that her sister was curious to see her wearing her working clothes. In the end she agreed that the following week she would wear her usual work clothes and bring a second set for her sister to try.
Then on Monday morning everything fell apart. When she arrived at work Narita was not there, which was unusual but perhaps she had a cold. But than almost as soon as the last of her department had arrived her manager called them all into his office. Standing there was a Pakistani man and someone who looked like a lawyer.
“I am afraid I have some very bad news,” began her manager, “Mr and Mrs Khan were both killed in an accident on the motorway on Friday evening. This is Mr Khan’s brother who will take over the business, and this is Peter Finch, who is the company’s lawyer. Peter, I think you had better explain what is going to happen.”
The lawyer stood to speak, obviously intimidated by the sea of veils.
“Good morning ladies,“ he stammered, “my news isn’t all bad, you will be pleased to hear. The company is in good shape, and Ahmed here will be staying for a few weeks to help me to ensure that it stays that way. You will all keep your jobs and there will be no changes to your terms and conditions.”
At this point he was interrupted by a cough from the manager.
“At least your formal employment terms won’t change. However, at the moment you are being paid a bonus and payments are being made to a charity you chose if you veil at work. That is now a problem as the payments were being made personally by Mr Khan and I have no power to make them from the company finances. So I am afraid that from now on those payments will have to cease. I am very sorry. You have raised a lot for your charity and I gather that you are a very good workforce. But it is just not possible for me to use company money on things like that.”
There was a stunned silence. Eventually Adeela put up her hand.
“Mr Kahn has treated us so well, I propose that we keep veiling as a mark of respect for him. I know it is easy for me because I am a Muslim, so I want those of you who are not to decide. What do you think, girls?”
Michelle knew that Matthew would want her to veil, and she was so used to it now that it would be strange to stop. In any case, she remembered, her other clothes were still locked away. But she didn’t want to influence the others.
“I’m game to continue for now,” called out someone in the back row, and there was a buzz of agreement.
Ahmed Khan held up his hand to speak.
“Thank you very much for this show of respect for my brother,” he began, “I am very touched by it. I didn’t want to say anything until Peter had explained the situation. Of course, when all the formalities are sorted out I will be the owner of the company. I intend to move here in the next few weeks. And I promise you that when I am in charge the bonus will be reinstated. I think it was a great idea of my brother.”
“But I would like to ask you to do something in return. Narita is now on her own. She hasn’t come in today but I think it would be good for her to continue working with you. If I can persuade her, I would like your promise that you will look after her.”
Immediately Adeela put up her hand again.
“We all love her and of course we will look after her. If she wants somewhere to stay in St Albans I have a spare room in my flat. I would love to have her join me. But if she doesn’t want to I’ll understand, I’m not sure how I would feel in her position.”
“I’ll tell her that, and I hope she will be here tomorrow,” responded Ahmed Khan, “but if there are no more questions perhaps we had better get back to work to keep the company in the excellent shape you have made it. And I have a lot of work to do with Peter here.”
18 Another meeting
It was about half an hour after they had returned to their desks and tried to get on with their work that Michelle received a call to go to the sales director’s office. As she entered she saw that Ahmed Khan was also there.
“Sit down, Michelle, please,“ said her boss rather formally.
When she was seated he continued.
“Mr Khan has asked me to take over for a while as acting managing director. This is only until he can move himself and his family to this country but will be for a few months. For this time, I am asking you if you will take on the temporary job of sales manager. We have been very pleased with your performance and the way you have helped Narita, and feel that you have the leadership qualities needed for the job. And if you do agree, we are thinking that Narita might do your job. So two questions: will you take the sales manager job and what do you think about Narita taking your current job?”
Michelle really didn’t know how to answer. She really wasn’t sure she had the experience needed for the job, but if they thought she did then perhaps she did. And about Narita – she could certainly do the job with a bit of supervision, but what would happen when her sales manager job finished? She couldn’t go back to her job if Narita was doing it.
“I am not sure I can do the job, but if you think so I am willing to try, though you will have to help me,” she stammered.
“That’s OK. Of course I will give you all the help I can,” responded her boss.
“But I have one question. I am sure Narita could do my job but what would happen when I didn’t have the sales manager job any more?” she asked nervously.
“I must admit that I haven’t thought that far ahead,” responded the sales director, looking rather embarrassed, “but I promise you won’t lose your job. If necessary we’ll make a new post for you. As you know the company is thriving and it’s largely due to the work of your department. So I hope we shall soon need a sales manager as well as a sales director. Can you trust me on this?”
Michelle thought, glad that her boss couldn’t see her face under her thick veiling.
“I’ll accept that. Just one more question. I started wearing these clothes when I began training Narita, at her request. What should I wear now? I don’t want to upset her, but these clothes are pretty restricting.”
“I’m really glad you have accepted my offer. And as for clothes, I am sure Mr Khan would prefer you dressed as you are now, but there will be no complaints if you wear what most of the others wear, or even if you don’t want to veil at all – though since I gather the whole department has voted to continue veiling I assume that’s not an option for you.”
“It’s no problem to wear what I am wearing now,” responded Michelle. But I would like some help getting another spare set of clothes. I’ll pay of course, but I don’t know where to get clothes like these.”
“I’ll speak to Narita. She will know,” interjected Mr Khan, but there’s no question of you paying for them. I’ll make them a present to you. You have done so much for our company and my family.”
Michelle didn’t know how to reply so just stuttered her thanks, but she was thinking of all the shoes she had received from Narita, and the fact that she now spent no money at all on clothes. But it reminded her that her wardrobe was still locked. She really must get Matthew to cut the chain.
Her boss interrupted her thoughts: “And of course you will move into this office, as I’ll be using the office upstairs, so you’ll have my secretary to help you. So Narita can use your desk and we‘ll recruit someone to fill her place.”
“I have a feeling that there will be a queue of Adeela’s friends and relations applying,” laughed Michelle, as much to dispel her lingering doubts as anything else.
“And if they do, I’ll be very pleased, “answered her boss, “the last few new recruits have been great and I think they are all her cousins.”
“So when do you want to make these changes?” asked Michelle.
“How about now?” was an answer she wasn’t expecting. “Give me ten minutes to move my things upstairs and then you can move yours in here. Narita can change desks when she comes back to work. I’ll get my – sorry your – secretary to help you move her things before she goes home tonight.”
Within the hour Michelle was sitting at her new desk musing on how fast things had happened that morning. She was very sad about the deaths of Narita’s parents. She had asked about attending the funeral but was told that it had been that morning.
There seemed to be an enormous amount of paperwork for her to read to get up to date with her new job, and before she knew it she was being called by Adeela to ask if she was going home.
19 The ultimate stage?
At home she realised that she was exhausted both by the stress of the morning and the work of absorbing all that she had read. She made a cup of coffee and sat to drink it, but the next she knew was the phone ringing. It was Matthew. Could he come over?
Although she was very tired, Michelle wasn’t going to say no, as she had a lot to tell him, and within minutes he was ringing the door bell. He was surprised to see her still in her work clothes, but kissed the black fabric covering her forehead.
“I’ve been working on those extra restraints you talked about and I have brought them for you,” he began, but Michelle cut him off.
“I’ve got a lot to talk about first; it’s been quite a day.”
Matthew sat silent while she told him about the death of the company owner and his wife, her promotion and the agreement of the staff to continue veiling – and her promise to continue wearing the clothes she was now dressed in.
“I think we’ll leave the things I brought for another time,” was Matthew’s response. “But you need to eat. Did you intend to cook?”
Michele realised that she was hungry, as she hadn’t eaten since breakfast.
“Well, you change into something you can eat easily in, and we’ll go out somewhere near here,” suggested Matthew.
Michelle nearly said she didn’t need to change, but realised that it would be much easier to eat if she was wearing her pak chador.
“I tell you what. You like me helpless, so I’ll wear a pak chador but I’ll also wear my hobble skirt and mittens, and you can feed me, so pizza might be easiest. What do you think?”
The question wasn’t needed as she could see that Matthew was delighted, so she headed for her room. When she came back she was wearing her work skirt with the hobble skirt under, a salwar kameez and a pak chador, and was holding her mittens, which Matthew slipped onto her already gloved hands and fastened.
“Do you like the shoes?” she whispered in his ear as he was fastening the second strap, “They are another pair of Narita’s. They are the highest I have ever worn so you will have to hold me firmly.”
“They look great, and I have no objection to holding you firmly,” answered Matthew, gripping her firmly by the arm and leading her out to his car.
Yet again he took her to a new pub with a dining room at the back. They were the only customers. Matthew ordered drinks – with a straw for Michelle and two pizzas, and then carefully fed his helpless fiance.
When they returned to Michelle’s flat he showed her what he had brought. The neck brace was very much like those she had seen on the net, but the arm restraints were a surprise. Matthew produced a leather belt with two straps attached.
“You put this round your waist behind you and then fasten the straps round your arms just above your elbows. Then your arms will be pinned by your sides.” he explained.
“But I won’t be able to reach to do up the straps round my arms. Will I?” queried Michelle.
“If you do up the arm straps before you do up the belt, you may be able to,” suggested Matthew, “or you may be able to reach the straps, I’m not sure. Of course, if I put the belt on you with the buckle at the back and then do up the arms straps you certainly won’t be able to escape,” he chuckled.
“That’s what you would like, isn’t it?” asked Michelle, glad her face was hidden from her fiance.
“I might. How about you?” responded Matthew.
“I think I might, but not tonight please. I’m absolutely shattered. Is there any chance of you coming round later in the week so we can try both things?” asked Michelle.
“How about Thursday?” was the immediate response, “but I think we had better order in something to eat, as you won’t want to go out the first time you are so helpless.”
“A great idea,” said Michelle, snuggling against Matthew.
Pretty soon she was dreaming of being helpless in Matthew’s arms, only to be woken up by Matthew announcing that it was late and he had to get up early in the morning.
“I’ll let myself out,” he called from the hallway as Michelle settled down on the sofa again and was soon asleep.
20 A problem
It was about three in the morning before Michelle woke and realised that she wasn’t in bed. She got up and headed for her bedroom, only to realise when she got there that she was still wearing the mittens and couldn’t get them off. They would have to stay on until she got to work, but so would all her other clothes including her hobble skirt. As there was nothing else she could do, she climbed into bed and with some difficulty pulled the duvet over her, and was out like a light until the alarm woke her.
As soon as she realised how helpless she was she began to panic. She just had to get to work on her first day in her new post, but she couldn’t change her clothes or even pay the fare on the bus. She was still wearing those very high heels and her hobble skirt. She decided that she would just have to walk, and since she would be very slow she had better start out immediately. It would take her at least an hour and a half to walk the half mile to the office.
Just getting down the stairs was enough of a challenge. With her hobble skirt her steps were very small and she needed to shuffle to the edge of each step before she could reach the next one down. The last time she had tried this she had been able to use her hands but now her mittens prevented her from gripping the handrail, so she kept close to the wall and more or less slid down each step.
But her luck was in. She was still about a mile away when a car pulled up beside her and the familiar voice of Adeela called out asking if she would like a lift. Seeing that she would but was having problems, Adeela pulled over and helped Michelle into the car.
“So whatever are you doing walking here at this hour, and so slowly?” asked Adeela.
Michelle had no choice but to explain about her restraints and the mistake the previous night. Adeela couldn’t stop giggling as she explained how she had woken up and realised that she was virtually helpless, and couldn’t even phone Matthew for help.
“It sounds fun. I’ll have to see what my husband thinks about some of these things,” laughed the girl, “but I’m not sure if I start he will want to release me. He’ll say that if it is what Narita does to be modest then I should do the same, I’m sure – not that we are a very devout family but it would be a great excuse for him.”
“So what about Narita’s other restraints?” asked Michelle, thinking that Adeela would be horrified.
“What other restraints?” Adeela asked innocently.
“Well, she always wears a hood with just three small holes, so she can’t eat during the day and she can only see straight ahead. And she also wears a neck brace so she can’t turn her head. Have you noticed how she always turns to look at anyone who speaks to her? And in addition her arms are held by her sides by her clothes so she can only move them from the elbows down.”
“Wow. I don’t know how she could even dream those things up. She must be very determined to be modest. But I don’t understand why she wants to restrict what she can see,” queried Adeela.
“It’s so she can’t be tempted to ogle every handsome man who passes by,” explained Michelle.
“That makes sense,” mused Adeela, “and it would certainly make her pretty helpless. She wouldn’t be able to do much at all on her own and she wouldn’t be able to remove her restraints once they were on. But how does she manage at work? She uses her hands then.”
“Yes, but she has to sit close to the desk to reach the keyboard and mouse, and you may have noticed that her monitor is raised up on a bracket rather than being on the desk, so she can see it by looking straight ahead. And of course she speaks at work, which she normally doesn’t do outside the house,” explained Michelle.
“Well, I think I am modest, especially back at home, but I couldn’t cope with what she goes through every day by choice. And to tell you the truth I don’t think it is necessary,” responded Adeela.
“Well, I should tell you that I sometimes wear a hood like hers to please my fiance, and he has just got me a neck brace and has arranged a way to restrain my arms, so when I have tried them I will let you know what it is like,” offered Michelle.
“You are nuts too,” laughed Adeela, “but please let me know how you get on. Though I don’t think I shall suggest such things to my husband or he will want to keep me at home all the time, permanently chained to the bed or something.”
It was only as she shuffled to her desk that Michelle remembered that she was still trapped in the mittens. She turned back into the main office and slowly approached Adeela.
“Could you release my hands so I can do some work please?” she asked
Adeela decided to have some fun, so instead of discreetly undoing the straps she called out to the whole office: “Should I release Michelle from her bondage?”
Everyone was soon surrounding Michelle who was forced to explain her predicament to everyone present.
“I think I had better let her do some work, don’t you?” Adeela asked her audience, to which she received a mix of nods and “no’s”, but she reached out and undid Michelle’s mittens and drew them off her hands.
“Could you take mine off now please?” asked a voice beside her.
She tuned to see that it was Narita.
“I think that is Michelle’s job,” she laughed, but reached out so she could undo the straps on the girls’ wrists.
“Now, work everyone, before we are all in trouble,” said Michelle. “Remember I am supposed to be acting sales manager so in theory I am your boss. Don’t make things too hard for me on my first day.”
21 Quieter times
Apart from her slow movements nothing appeared different from usual as Michelle moved round the office – which she had to do much more than in the past – but by the end of another day of learning her new role she was exhausted, and she was very glad when Adeela offered her a lift home. She was glad of some quiet evenings, and had almost forgotten inviting Matthew around for the Thursday evening. In fact it was only when the door bell rang that she remembered.
“Are you ready for an evening of helplessness?” he asked as he came in and put a bag on the floor.
“So what’s new when I am with you?” teased Michelle, who had not got around to changing from her work clothes and was therefore heavily veiled.
“Well you had better go and put on your skirt and mask, and your highest heels please,” requested Matthew, patting his fiance on the bottom, “Oh and I think once you are fully restrained you should be silent for the rest of the evening, don’t you, to keep in character?”
Michelle decided that it was best not to comment. She didn’t mind being silent, as it meant she could keep her thoughts to herself. Soon she shuffled slowly into the room where Matthew was unpacking his bag.
“You’ll have to take off your top layer so I can fit the neck brace,” Matthew told her as he lifted it off the table.
It took a few seconds for Matthew to adjust the height of the collar and its diameter so it fitted comfortably but held Michelle’s head still on her shoulders, after which she picked up her bushiyya and headscarf from the table more or less by feel and memory and draped them over her head.
“Now let’s see if you can fit this yourself,” suggested Matthew handing her the belt. Michelle fastened it snugly round her waist and found that with care she could fasten the straps round her upper arms, holding them by her sides.
“So if I want you trapped in this device I should do it up at the back,” commented Matthew, picking up her mittens.
Michelle held out her hands and was soon as restrained as Narita always was when outside her house or work. She quickly found that if she wanted to see Matthew she had to turn her whole body and look straight at him. She couldn’t look up or down without bending her body, which in the heels she was wearing was a tricky thing to do safely. She spent some time just walking carefully round the room getting used to having no peripheral vision to help her avoid obstacles. She realised that there would be little temptation to speak as the neck brace held her mouth closed quite effectively, but that it was also going to make eating a bit of a problem. She decided to tell Matthew, and headed for her desk where she knew there was a pencil and paper. She couldn’t reach very far onto it, but Matthew could see what she was trying to reach and handed it to her.
“So you have decided to agree to my request and be silent?” queried Matthew.
Michelle realised that, with her hand under her bushiyya and trapped in the mitten, she couldn’t take the pencil so turned to Matthew and stood still looking at him.
“Well, I was going to suggest going out for a meal, but perhaps we will have to pass on that,” responded Matthew. “But would you like a drink?”
Michelle tried to nod but failed, so just kept looking at Matthew.
“I think we will have to work out some way for you to say at least yes and no,” commented Matthew. “How about if you face me for yes and turn your back to me for no?”
Michelle turned slightly to face Matthew, who understood her message and headed for the kitchen, returning quickly with two glasses of wine and a straw.
“I assume you will need this,” he said as he put the wine on the table and held the straw up before putting it into one of the glasses.
They sat side by side on the sofa, with Matthew’s arm round Michelle who realised that she felt very safe despite her helplessness. It was a while before it dawned on Michelle that she could not pick up the glass or ask Matthew to help her, so she reached out as far as the strap restraining her arm would let her and hoped Matthew noticed the movement under her long veil. But he didn’t, so she resigned herself to waiting until he noticed that the glass was still full.
Eventually, he did notice and Michelle got her long awaited drink. But as soon as she had finished drinking and had gingerly managed to put the glass back on the coffee table, after carefully kneeling down to be near enough, Matthew announced that they were going out. If she could have spoken Michelle would have refused, but she quickly realised that Matthew was determined anyway. This was evidently planned by him as part of her evening. But she didn’t move, waiting for him to help her up. When he did, she was surprised because he simply picked her up by her waist and held her until she could put her feet on the ground and gain her balance.
“I think another visit to Dunstable Downs would be nice,” he told her as he was helping her down the stairs, “the evening is still light and the view will be beautiful, but hopefully you won’t be too hot.”
Getting into his car was even more of a challenge than usual with her limited arm movement and her rigidity from the waist up. But with some help from Matthew she made it, glad that there was no-one around to see. She could see very little out of the car as she could only look straight ahead and there was not a lot of light, so she decided just to relax and take whatever came. When Matthew announced that they had arrived she realised that she had dozed off. It had got quite a bit darker and she was virtually blind now, so it didn’t really matter that she couldn’t turn her head. Matthew helped her out of the car after releasing her belt, and they walked very slowly to their usual seat. This time it was a real challenge to walk as she could see nothing and walking even on a pavement was difficult. Michelle was hoping that Matthew wouldn’t take them off the path as she was sure she would trip if she had to walk on grass. By the time they arrived at the seat and Matthew helped her to sit she had decided that it was not an experience she wanted to repeat, even if Matthew enjoyed having her so helpless. She could see nothing, she could not do anything for herself and she couldn’t even speak. She wondered again what was different from Narita’s neck brace as the girl seemed to have no problem speaking. She must tell Matthew she would not go out like this again however much he wanted it.
Eventually Matthew must have decided that the evening was not a great success, as he helped her up without saying anything and then turned her so she was facing him – though it was now so dark that she could see nothing at all through her veil.
“I’m sorry, this evening hasn’t quite worked out as I thought it would. You are just too helpless for us to do anything much. I’m sorry if it has been miserable for you.. Let’s go back to your flat and I’ll release you.”
Michelle was surprised at the strength of his words. She had not been enjoying herself but it had not been terrible. She had been sitting next to him and his arm had been around her. She wasn’t sure she would have done much more if she had been mobile. But it was being unable to speak that was the big new restriction for her. She had spent several evenings being silent voluntarily but this was different. But to try to say to Matthew that it was not as bad as he thought she took a step forward so she was touching him and held out her hands as far as her clothes and bonds would let her, touching him at the waist.
Matthew sensed her movement and pulled her close, holding her tight, so much so that she nearly lost her balance when he released her. But he stopped her falling by holding her arm firmly.
As soon as the door of the flat was shut Matthew pulled up Michelle’s veil and unbuckled the neck brace.
“Hold out your hands,” he instructed and removed her mittens, “now the rest is up to you.”
This caught Michelle unprepared for a few seconds, and she just stood there. Matthew sensed her uncertainty.
“I mean that you can decide how much you want to remove your restrictions, and even your veiling. I imposed this evening on you and I know you didn’t enjoy it. To tell you the truth it didn’t work for me either. So now it’s your chance to decide what you wear and how restricted you are. We can either go out to eat or stay here and have something delivered.”
22 A much better time
Michelle headed toward her bedroom, trying to decide what to wear. She knew Matthew liked her helpless, but she really didn’t like being unable to speak when she wanted to, even though she was quite happy to remain silent by choice. And she would rather like to go out, but she also liked Matthew’s attention when she needed help.
When she reappeared she was wearing her normal outfit for visiting her family with two exceptions. She had kept on the hobble skirt and she was wearing her bushiyya along with her usual niqab, so that her face was hidden. What no-one could see was that under her bushiyya she was wearing an opaque scarf covering her eyes, so she was completely blind. She shuffled carefully forward, feeling her way. Matthew quickly noticed that she couldn’t see.
“So would you like to go out?” he asked her as he took her gloved hand and led her to the sofa.
“Yes please, but I want you to feed me, and from now on I’m not going to speak,” she responded, wrapping her arms round her fiance and kissing him through her veil, “and as you can tell I can’t see at all, so you will have to lead me everywhere. But no arm restraints, no neck brace and also no mittens please. I don’t want to use my hands to eat but I would like to be ale to use them for other things. By the way I still can’t move fast and my heels are very high, so you’ll have to keep an eye on me when we are walking.”
Matthew made a quick call to his favourite pub restaurant and then guided Michelle to the car. Soon they were ensconced in the private room at the back where he had proposed to her. He put her wine glass in her hand so she could drink on her own, but every morsel of food was carefully fed to her by lifting her veil enough to reach her mouth with the fork but without ever revealing her face. And never once did he say anything that required an answer other than a nod or shake of the head.
When they got back, and Matthew had safely seated Michelle on the sofa, he was surprised to see that she was holding out her hands to him, but not moving.
“What do you want?” he asked, but Michelle didn’t answer, and he remembered that she didn’t intend speaking that evening. He thought. “Do you want your mittens?” he asked.
Michelle nodded, and was soon unable to do anything with her hands, though it didn’t stop her holding Matthew tight when he came near enough.
“I think I’ll watch the baseball now. Is that OK with you?” he asked her jokingly.
Michelle responded by punching him in the stomach.
“Perhaps I need to restrain your arms again,” he joked, “but I don’t really want to watch TV at all.”
This was rewarded by another hug, and they remained in a close embrace for some time, Matthew gently caressing Michelle in places he knew she liked and she responding with occasional purrs and wriggles of pleasure.
Suddenly Matthew jumped up.
“Do you realise it is one thirty!” he exclaimed. “We both have work in a few hours. It’s been a great second half to the evening but I think we both need some rest. And this time I am not going to leave you trapped in your mittens. Hold out your hands.”
As soon as the mittens were lying safely on the table, and he had kissed Michelle once more, Matthew headed for the door. Michelle headed for her room, suddenly realising how tired she was. She lay on the bed . . .
23 Work again
The next thing she knew was the sound of her alarm clock. She reached out and switched it off, not noticing yet that she was still wearing her blindfold. Gradually as she came to she remembered the previous evening, and that she was still dressed as she had been when Matthew left. Veils and blindfold were quickly removed and clothes for the day laid out on the bed. The kettle boiled and she was soon sitting drinking coffee dressed in just her salwar kameez and work skirt – as well of course as her usual tights and gloves. As she drank she thought about the previous evening. She was glad that Matthew had not found her complete helplessness something he wanted to repeat. She had no trouble veiling and even wearing high heels and gloves, but the other things were just for special occasions, and not for occasions where she would be out in public.
She was adjusting to her new work role, and they had already started looking for an extra member of staff. Today there would be interviews, and though her boss would be there he had made it clear that she should do the actual interviewing. It was going to be difficult as one candidate was a relative of Adeela and the other two were both friends of hers. By the time she had got to work she had decided that she would just have to treat all the candidates equally and Adeela would have to deal with any complaints from the unsuccessful candidates – after all she had encouraged them to apply.
By the time she had dealt with the post and some urgent messages it was time for the interviews. She had seen the three candidates arrive. Needless to say, all were heavily veiled, so she wouldn’t know which was which until she had started the interviews, so she could be completely impartial. In fact she decided not to ask them if they were related to Adeela.
When it came to it, it was an easy choice as one was much better qualified than the others and also spoke English with less of an accent, something which she knew Adeela and Narita sometimes had problems with. Of course as soon as the successful candidate had accepted the job Adeela was in her office asking which it was – and Michele was not surprised to find that she was Adeela’s cousin.
“Since you put her up to applying I shall hold you responsible if she is no good at the job,” Michelle told Adeela, knowing that her veil prevented Adeela seeing her grin. For a second Adeela was silent and Michelle decided she had gone too far, so she quickly continued, “Don’t worry, I am joking. I think she will be very good.”
She heard Adeela breath a big sigh and knew she had been right not to tease the girl any longer. She really must take her new position seriously, though the veil was often useful to hide behind.
24 Small disappointments
The week at work was so busy that it was Friday afternoon before she realised, and she knew she would have to stay late to finish the weekly report for her boss. She therefore excused herself from the weekly Friday evening gathering, hoping that the others wouldn’t think that she felt she couldn’t attend because she was now their boss. It was after seven when she left, and her journey home was after the busy hour – you couldn’t really call it a rush hour in St Albans – so she reached home quickly. As she was opening the front door her mobile rang. Matthew was free, would she like to go out for a drink?
It took a fraction of a second for her to accept, and Matthew said he would be around in about fifteen minutes. Michelle decided to change from her work clothes and chose her dark red salwar kameez and found a pair of shoes in Narita’s bag which were an almost perfect match. She decided to wear just her basic niqab so drinking would be easy. Matthew had had her completely covered a week ago, so now it was her turn to choose. As she thought about what to wear she remembered that her wardrobe was still padlocked. She had not really missed the clothes inside, but it would be useful to have them available. She rang Matthew. No, he hadn’t left his flat, and yes he could bring some tools.
Within minutes of his arrival, Matthew had managed to cut the chain holding her wardrobe closed. Rather nervously she opened it, looking at all the clothes she used to wear. Her immediate reaction was disappointment, as she saw nothing she really wanted to wear. Surely her clothes were not that boring? She took things out of the wardrobe one by one, but she found nothing she would want to wear again. She looked at her shoes. They were so boring compared with those she wore now, and she wasn’t sure she could actually wear such low heels comfortably.
“What do you think?” she asked Matthew, “which clothes should I keep?”
Matthew picked up two long skirts and two tops with long sleeves.
“I think these are about the only things here that do with your present style of dress. If you are going to continue veiling I think the rest could go to a charity shop. And the shoes are really boring. I love the shoes you wear now.”
That decided Michelle. Within minutes the two tops and skirts were back in the wardrobe and the rest of the pile of clothes and the shoes were in black bags ready to go to Oxfam. Then she looked through the shelves. There were some sweaters she quite liked and they could be useful in winter, so she put them back. There was also some underwear which she would definitely keep. But now there was plenty of room for the clothes she was wearing regularly but which had had to stay in a pile on a chair.
“Well, that was a bit of a disappointment,” she commented as she hugged Matthew. “I hadn’t realised how boring my clothes used to be. It’s not as though a black veil is exactly exciting, but I just don’t feel I would ever have worn most of those things again even if I stopped veiling.”
“Well, I like you the way you are now, so don’t worry. Now you know though how you managed so easily without getting at your clothes. But I do like those two skirts. You should wear them sometimes when you don’t think they are too colourful. But I’m hungry. Can you manage normal food tonight or do I need to feed you again?”
“I’ll manage to feed myself tonight,” responded Michelle, “but I feel rather naked. Do you mind if I wear my dark glasses to hide my eyes? I‘m not used to people seeing them.”
“I’m fine with that if you don’t mind being seen out at night in shades,” responded Matthew, opening the door.
Michelle picked up her sunglasses from the table beside the door and they headed for the car. She felt really free without her restricting clothes, and knew that she was going to enjoy the evening.
25 Getting ready
As soon as the waiter had brought their drinks – Michelle’s with a straw to make it easy to drink – Matthew surprised her.
“I think we should start planning the wedding,” was his opening gambit.
“My sister has already decided that she wants to be veiled, but I don’t know what I want to wear,” answered Michelle, continuing after a moment, “but I don’t think I could cope with showing myself half naked in the kind of wedding dress that seems to be popular now.”
“That’s what I was hoping you would say,” answered Matthew, “I thought something much more traditional with just a conventional veil but quite a thick one so you don’t feel too exposed. How does that strike you?”
“I don‘t think my family would be happy if I wore niqab or a bushiyya. So it seems a good compromise, but are you happy not to see my face at the wedding? And won’t people expect me to be unveiled for photos?” asked Michelle.
“You’re probably right about the photos, but perhaps you could get away with a short sheer veil for that which would at least leave you some modesty, and over that wear something longer and thicker – but you don’t want it to be too long as you will need to be able to eat and drink.”
“And of course I will wear white gloves,” responded Michelle, sounding relieved, “I think I had better start talking to my mother about the wedding soon before she starts making plans without asking us.”
“Good idea, can you raise the subject on Sunday? I’ll sound out my parents about dates. And presumably you will have too book the church soon.”
“I haven’t been inside the church for years, but I think it is the same vicar. I’ll telephone and arrange to see him on Sunday,” answered Michelle, “though as it is quite a traditional church he may insist on seeing you as well.”
26 Setting the date
Michelle’s parents were relieved to hear about her plans for a dress, and before the day was out they had been scouring the internet for ideas. Michelle didn’t want one which emphasised her figure, and it had to have long sleeves and a high neck, so they ended up with a style which was called “Victorian” but Michelle was sure was unlike anything any Victorian bride had ever worn, and certainly a lot more expensive.
However, she had a surprise when she called at the vicarage. She had warned the Vicar on the phone that she would be veiled, but he still looked surprised, and his opening gambit made it evident that he was concerned.
“So if you are a Muslim why do you want to be married in my church?”
“Oh, I’m certainly not a Muslim, responded Michelle, “I think I had better tell you the story,“ which she did.
“Well, you have really got yourself into something, haven’t you?” was the Vicar’s eventual response. “I have to admire you for your tenacity. Most people would have stopped as soon as the bonus ended. But does this mean that you will have to veil for the rest of your life?”
“Probably I shall, though of course I could stop at any time, and anyway my fiancé likes it,” responded Michelle with a giggle. “But anyway, after being covered for so long I don’t feel happy exposing myself.”
“Well, I am sure St Paul would have approved. He liked his women to cover themselves and be silent in church,” answered the Vicar. “But have you set a date yet? The church is quite busy with weddings in the summer.“
“We are pretty flexible,“ replied Michelle, though it needs to be a Saturday as otherwise the company I work for will have to close for the day, and I’m not sure that would go down well. How about ten weeks from now?”
The Vicar consulted a large diary on his desk. “There are two weddings that day but the afternoon is free. Would that suit you?”
Michelle calculated quickly. “Yes, that would fit very well. If we have the ceremony in the early afternoon most of the guests will be able to travel the same day. Say two o’clock?”
“OK. I’ve booked that in,” responded the Vicar making a note in the diary. “By the way, when are you and your fiancé coming to church? I insist that if I am going to marry a couple they attend for at least six Sundays beforehand, and that they attend a couple of classes when we discuss what marriage means.”
“Oh, I hadn’t realised that,” responded Michelle, glad once again that her veil hid her expression. “I’ll talk to Matthew to see whether he can come. I visit my family every Sunday but he lives down near Reading. And I’ll talk to my mother about whether we can find a room for him or if he can stay with a friend. ”
“By the way, ” she added after a few seconds, “I shall be wearing a normal wedding dress, with a big veil, but my sister insists that she is going to wear clothes like I am wearing now including a veil. That won’t cause any problems, will it? And anyway some of the guests will be veiled as they are Muslims. Most of my work colleagues are.”
“It won’t cause me any problems, but how about your family? I don’t mean your parents, but you will want to invite others, I assume.”
“A good point. I think I’ll ask mother for advice on that,” responded Michelle. “In the meantime I’ll make sure that Matthew and I can come at least six times. And to the classes. When will they be? I don’t think we could come on a weekday.”
“I usually do them on weekday evenings, ” explained the Vicar, “ but I can fit them in on Saturdays if you can come then, but you will have to come on Saturdays when I am free. Let’s see, I am away for the next two Saturdays but I am here most Saturdays after that. Not the 14th as I have to be at the Women’s Institute fete. And not the 21st as the Bishop is visiting. But the following two weeks would be fine.”
“I’ll talk to Matthew but that gives us time to get organised. And it will still be several weeks before the wedding,“ responded Michelle, “and anyway we want to be here to hear the banns read, so that would fit in well.”
Michelle’s mother was only too happy to have Matthew as a guest for a few weekends before the wedding so they could attend church and the classes.
“After all, I have hardly met him, and he has hardly met the family,” she commented, “and what if we don‘t get on?”
It took Michelle a few seconds to realise that her mother was joking, and in that time she had turned first white with worry and then red with embarrassment, but it was all hidden from view, so she just answered calmly.
“Oh, we’ll just have to move abroad, Saudi Arabia perhaps!”
Matthew was only too happy to spend several weekends at the home of Michelle’s parents, and soon got on well with the whole family. He was most amused at Michelle’s sister, who insisted on wearing clothes borrowed from her sister at all opportunities, even attending church with them so that he was accompanied by two veiled women, rather to the Vicar’s confusion.
At their first Saturday meeting with the Vicar, they were surprised when he told them that before they started the class his wife wanted to meet them, and to hear for herself Michelle’s story of why she veiled. She had simply not believed her husband when he had told her. But Michelle managed to persuade her that it was not a hoax and that she was not a Muslim pretending to be a Christian, after which she insisted in bringing in tea and cakes for them – mainly Michelle suspected so that she could see the girl eat and drink behind her veil. A mischievous thought entered her head – should she wear her work clothes for the second meeting. But when she broached the subject with Matthew later he was firmly against the idea.
Michelle’s mother seemed to be spending all her time looking for something to wear for the wedding, so eventually Michelle asked her what the problem was.
“Well with you and your sister both veiled, I think perhaps I should be too, but I can’t find anything suitable. I don’t want to wear an outfit like the one your sister has bought, but there don’t seem to be any other options except a wedding dress and that is obviously no good.”
“How about just wearing a simple dress and a loose veil covering your head and shoulders?” Michelle suggested. “Tell you what, next week when I come I’ll bring a veil with me that might be suitable. It is not too dense so you will be able to see OK, but it will come down to cover your hands, which might be a bit long. If it seems about right, though, you could just buy some suitable fabric and made a square the size you want.”
“I don’t know, it sounds a bit extreme, but I’ll try it if you like,” responded Michelle’s mother doubtfully. “I was thinking of something attached to a hat, but all the hats I can find are ridiculously fancy, the kind of thing celebrities would wear to Ascot.”
“You could wear a simple pill box to match your dress and anchor the veil to it,” suggested Michelle. “Then it could be longer at the back than at the front if you don’t want it down to your waist. But mine is black and you don’t want that or people will think you are in mourning instead of celebrating!”
There were a few looks and muttered comments when Matthew and Michelle attended church to hear the banns read, but no-one spoke to her about her clothes. In fact everyone was very friendly. Although Michelle had not been to church since she left home, many of the congregation knew her or her parents and there were lots of congratulations.
28 Good news
It was less than an hour before Michelle was due to leave work the day before the wedding when her phone rang. Her boss asked her to summon all the staff into her office. Almost as soon as they were all inside her boss arrived with Ahmed Khan.
“I have some good news for you,,” he told the assembled crowd, “or at least Mr Kahn has.”
“Yes, I am pleased to say that the formalities have been completed and I am now owner of the company,” Ahmed explained. “I am going to change nothing about the way the company is run as you are doing a fantastic job and our profits are increasing rapidly. But I am going to reinstate the bonuses for veiling and the payments to charity, and I am going to pay them for the period since my brother died.”
He was interrupted by a round of cheering.
“But there is more,” he interrupted the noise. “I shall not be able to run the company like my brother did, so I am appointing a new managing director in my place. You know him well, as until recently he was sales manager.”
Again he was interrupted by an uproar.
“Quiet, I haven’t finished yet,” he shouted over the applause and cheering.
“And she has done such a good job that I am promoting Michelle to sales director, as soon as she returns from her honeymoon.”
He couldn’t go on because all the staff had rushed to hug and kiss Michelle, who was once again very glad that her blushes were hidden behind her thick veil.
29 The wedding and after
The evening and night flew by and before she knew it Michelle was dressing for her wedding. Her sister had been extremely secretive about her clothes, and it was not until just before she left for the church with Matthew and her mother that Michelle saw what she had chosen. As she had threatened, it was a salwar kameez and pak chador, but it was in a vivid green with gold embroidery, with matching gloves. And to Michelle’s surprise, she had her eyes covered by a layer of fine black fabric underneath her veil. Michelle asked for an explanation.
“”Didn’t mother warn you?” was the first reply she received. When she probed further, the method in her sister’s apparent madness was revealed – she had fallen down stairs two days previously and had a broken nose and two black eyes! But only her family knew.
“But I rather like the look and I shall do it again. After all, you dress a lot more extremely when you are at work, and your veil for your wedding is a lot more opaque. At least I can see out.” was her parting shot, as she reached out and pulled Michelle‘s veil, which was draped down her back, over her head and face so she could see nothing but her feet.
Michelle’s father had been briefed to guide his daughter carefully up the aisle and none of the guests realised that she was virtually blind. As agreed, she had her veil thrown back for the photos so her face was obscured only by the short sheer white veil underneath, but at the reception she was guided by Matthew and then sat listening to the conversations around her, occasionally being given morsels of food and drinks by her new husband.
As soon as they arrived at the hotel room to change for the honeymoon, Matthew grabbed his wife’s veil and pulled it off, then throwing back the inner layer and kissing her.
“You can spend as much time as you like veiled in the future, but for a few minutes I want to see my new wife,” he told her firmly. Eventually, Michelle broke away from his embrace and pointed out that the guests were waiting for them. She quickly changed into an outfit similar to that worn by her sister but in a vivid blue and without the eye veil, but with a matching bushiyya over the top, and they returned to the reception.
Michelle spent most of the reception, supported by her mother and her new husband, explaining why she was dressed the way she was. It was evident that some of her relatives didn’t understand but no-one voiced disapproval. Eventually, they were able to get away from the reception and head for their honeymoon, They were saving all they could to buy a house so the honeymoon was not going to be a lavish affair, just a week in the Scilly Isles – all the holiday they could manage at once. After a long drive they arrived in Penzance where they were staying the night for the morning helicopter, and after some difficulty found the hotel.
They had decided to splash out for this one night and had booked a suite rather than just a room. Michelle left Matthew in the lounge area watching football on TV and headed for the bedroom.
She had already decided on her strategy for the evening. She had made sure that all her restricting clothes were packed, and she was soon dressed for work but with her hobble skirt, hood, neck brace and with her elbows strapped to her wrists. There was one extra item. Around her forehead was an opaque black scarf. She carefully picked up her mittens, shuffled out into the lounge and stood in front of Matthew. She discreetly reached up under her veil and pulled the blindfold over her eyes, then held out her mittens.
Matthew cottoned on immediately, taking them from her and strapping them on her wrists. It took a while for him to realise that she was also blindfolded but Michelle could tell from his voice that he was delighted that she had offered herself to him in this way.
We will cast a discreet veil (what else) over the night’s activities. However, when she woke next morning it took Michelle a while to realise that she was still wearing everything except her skirt and hobble skirt. There was no way she could ask Matthew to release her, so she just lay still until she heard him move, at which she turned laboriously towards him and reached out to feel him beside her.
Matthew immediately understood her message, and they were soon continuing where they had left of the previous evening.
Suddenly Matthew’s mobile rang. He ignored it for a while then answered and immediately cancelled the call, but it almost immediately rang again, so he reluctantly answered it.
“Why on earth are you calling me today?” he asked rather angrily, though Michelle could tell that he was being careful to control himself. “Oh, I see. Well perhaps I needed to know as soon as possible but you could have waited until tomorrow,” he finished the call and turned to the black pile of cloth lying on the bed, with his wife‘s legs protruding..
“That was my boss. He needs me to go to Saudi Arabia for two weeks when we get back. He says they will pay for you to come too, but of course you will have to wear a veil!”
A muffled giggle came from the pile of cloth.