I was on my third cup of coffee before I found what I had been looking for when I entered the bookstore, in the form of a blue-eyed brunette in the science fiction section. I walked up behind her and said quietly, "Would you care for an earful of cider?"
"I asked if you'd care for an earful of cider. Have you ever seen 'Guys and Dolls'?"
"Right. Do you remember the speech one of the gamblers makes, that goes, 'My Daddy once told me, Son, some day a man is going to put a sealed deck of cards into your hand, and offer you an outrageous bet that he can make the Jack of Hearts jump out of that deck and squirt cider into your ear. Son, do not take that bet, because as sure as I am standing here, you will end up with an ear full of cider'".
"Sky Masterson. And the point of this is?"
I shrugged. "I'm about to offer you an outrageous wager, and I want you to know in advance that it's a hustle, and that you can't possibly win."
"Okay..." She was smiling now.
"I will bet you a thousand dollars... against your chastity... that you and I will have sex between now and noon tomorrow."
I pulled a money clip that held twenty fifties out of my jacket pocket. "I'll even let you hold the stakes. If we have sex between now and noon, you admit that you lost and give me the money back. If we don't, you keep the money." I paused to let that sink in. "All you have to do is accept the bet and walk away... Did I say that drugs and violence are against the rules? They are. And even if you lose, I can promise you a nice dinner, a pleasant sexual interlude... I think I can safely guarantee pleasant... and breakfast from room service in the morning."
"Except that this is a hustle, and I can't possibly win."
"I did say that, yes."
"But if all I have to do is take the money and walk away..."
"That is the deal, yes." I held the money clip toward her.
"You know that my curiosity is going to drive me crazy if I say no..."
"And you have my guarantee that you will be glad you took the bet, even if you lose."
"This is crazy."
"Perhaps." I started to put the money back into my coat.
"Wait a minute. All right. You have a bet."
"Done." I handed her the money clip, then mumbled something in a language she didn't understand, and her eyes glazed over. I mumbled another phrase in the same language, and her eyes focused intently on mine. I leaned in close and whispered in her ear, "You will be my willing, eager, and happy slave until noon tomorrow," and then leaned back again.
She blinked a few times and then stared at me in bewilderment while several confused phrases barely failed to fight their way out of her mouth. Then she sighed, shrugged, and said (with just the least trace of resentment), "Daddy, I've got cider in my ear."
I love it when they know their lines.
We introduced ourselves, I paid for her book, and we went out to dinner. I told her not to ask what I had done to her until after dinner, and she obeyed. She had to.
"Are you familiar with the term 'geas'? You're under one."
"All right then, how?"
"Which doesn't tell me anything."
"Sure it does. Magic exists, I'm a magician, and you've been ensorcelled. I could give you more details, but they wouldn't mean anything to you; you don't have the vocabulary."
She thought about that, then shrugged. "Okay. Then why the wager?"
"Do you know the difference between a one night stand and a shipboard romance?"
"I know a rhetorical question when I hear one."
I grinned. "A one night stand is a short relationship with someone you could see again, but probably don't want to, and a shipboard romance is a short relationship with someone you would like to see again, but probably can't. I'm stuck here for a few days, and I'm the only person in town who knows it's a ship."
"I don't think that answered the question."
"Consider the alternative. I decide that I want your company for a while, throw a geas on you, take you off to a hotel, send you home in the morning with instructions to have difficulty remembering details about the whole thing except that you had a good time. When you thought about it-- which wouldn't be often-- you'd wonder how you got involved in that particular one night stand, but you wouldn't really regret it... and you'd never even begin to suspect that you'd been raped." I paused to let that sink in. "But I'd know. And I'm not a rapist, and I have no interest in becoming one."
"But you still threw the geas on me."
"With your consent, yes. Think about it. When was the last time you let a complete stranger take you out to dinner?"
"So we can assume that if I had just walked up and introduced myself I wouldn't have accomplished very much?"
"But by invoking your curiosity I got your permission to attempt to seduce you, right?"
"And I also convinced you that I was being fundamentally honest with you."
"Yes, but right now I'm still your prisoner."
"Is that a problem?"
"Yes! Of course it's a problem!"
"Fine. Admit that you've lost the bet in principle, if not in fact, but that you're unwilling to pay the forfeit, and I'll set you free and send you home. All you'll lose is my respect for you."
She stared at me intently. "No. I wouldn't... That isn't me. But I could agree that you've won the bet in principle, and pay the forfeit of my own free will."
"Wow." I was grinning so broadly I could hardly talk. "That I wasn't expecting. We could do that, and we will if you insist, but I have two objections. The first is that you have my word that you have nothing to fear from the geas, and you'll hurt my feelings-- a little bit-- if you don't trust me enough to leave it in place. And second, you'll miss out on the fringe benefits of the geas if I release you."
I clasped my hands on the table in front of me and stared down at them while I stifled a grin, then said, "Orgasm on command, mostly." I looked up and she was staring at me wide eyed. "Like... right now, say. A little one." I stared at my hands some more and bit back a giggle.
She didn't quite slide under the table. After she had pulled herself back upright, she gasped, "You... miserable... bastard," through a broad grin.
"May I assume you're withdrawing your request for freedom?" I said quietly; she threw an ice cube at me.