The Hot Seat

Cover The Hot Seat by Sandra Manther

Originally planned as a short story. But already the first volume of the new series about the students of Gamma Xi Delta developed a strange dynamic of its own. Probably the members of the new Sorority are such outstanding personalities that they were deeply involved in the development of the story. The result is a novella with a length of 65 manuscript pages (about 16,500 words), my longest text so far. I notice that I am getting closer and closer to the novel format. For all those who like to read longer New Adult stories.

That’s what it’s all about:

In Hamburg-Harvestehude a sorority, a so-called Greek-letter organization for young female students, has started its first chapter in Germany. The students do not only stand out because of their unusual dress code on campus.

Nina, a potential new member of the Hamburg Chapter, is put through her paces during a group evening. No wonder that her past comes up in the process.

They put her naked in the hot seat. Each participant gets a piece of paper on which she should write how she is feeling about Nina. And what they would like to do with her, if they could let their imagination run wild. But most of them don’t realize while writing down their thoughts that some of these fantasies will be realized in the evening.

Reading sample:

We are sitting on the floor of the chapter room, most of us cross-legged, a few in the heel-seat, or having their knees pulled. Thirty-four female students of the University of Hamburg. Every one of us wears the same clothes: jeans – many of them torn – and a bodysuit – often wide-cut or revealingly tight-fitting. We all are barefoot.
The long heavy curtains in front of the windows are closed. A spotlight illuminates the center of the room.
We’re living in an old mansion in Harvestehude, build in the late 19th century, but recently modernized. The youngest of us is just 18. She made a shortened Abitur and is now studying medicine. None of us is older than mid-20’s. The Bachelor’s programs have drastically reduced the length of study.
Bras are forbidden in our sorority. There are several reasons for this no-bra philosophy, but it would go too far here to enumerate them all. Let us agree that most of us find it more pleasant anyway not to be squeezed into these uncomfortable things that we wear mainly from social conventions. You know what I mean: this stereotype situation when you’ve been stopped by your mother just before leaving the house and sent back to your room to put on a bra.
“Free the nipple” is our slogan.
Shoes and stockings are also not allowed, at least inside the villa. That’s a kind of social early warning system not to neglect our feet. Shaping and polishing our toenails, shaving off any signs of calluses, and even moisturizing should be a routine just like brushing our teeth. Who hides his feet in stockings tends to sloppiness in such things. That’s the official reason. Fortunately, there is underfloor heating in the whole house.
High heels are mandatory when we are on campus.
Danielle is our founder, so to speak. Only she could come up with these quirky dress codes. She is from Louisiana and was already a member of Gamma Xi Delta there.
Here in Hamburg, we are the only sorority. Danielle originally just wanted to study a few semesters in the Old World to broaden her horizons. But without her sisters and her own house, she quickly got bored.
So she made lengthy phone calls to the international council and to some alumni until she got permission and money to establish a new chapter. She discovered the mansion in Harvestehude, directly beneath the river Alster, and bought it with support from headquarters.
There are currently thirty-four students living in this villa, but there is space for about fifty of us. No idea whoever lived here before, but they have heaps of rooms – including the rooms for the service personnel.
Twice a week, on Wednesday and Sunday, there is a group evening. We gather in the big salon, the Chapter Room. It’s the Wednesday we, the new members, are a little afraid of. As long as we are not initiated, everything we do is a kind of test. And on Wednesday, they pick one of us, by chance, to see if she is worthy of full membership.
In a bowl are black balls with the name of one of us in it. Danny pulls one of them, opens it, reads out the name. The girl whose name is chosen by lot is in the spotlight that evening.
The drawn balls don’t come back so that in two months, each of us new members has the questionable honor to be in the center of attention. Usually, this also includes an embarrassing examination of our physical condition.
Gamma Xi Delta uses a whole semester before initiating the new members. In March, the first meetings took place, and shortly before the beginning of the summer semester, seven of us received the bid to move into the villa as new members. If we don’t decide for ourselves to drop, we can stay here until the semester ends. Then the actives will determine who of us will be initiated and who has to leave the house.
So far, I have been fortunate not to be the focus of the group meeting. But every week, it’s more likely that my name will be drawn.
So I’m a little bit nervous when Danielle goes to the bowl and mixes the bullets.
There aren’t many names left. The first month in the villa is already over. Embarrassed, I run my finger over the nail of my big toe. “It would have to be filed,” I think. And I hope another name will be drawn.
The last few weeks have been pretty bad. My friend Rick broke up with me as soon as I moved in here. He fell in love with a fellow student and told me he finally finds someone to talk to. That asshole. Like he couldn’t have spoken to me. If I know him, he’ll especially need her to fuck.
Understandably, I withdraw for a while. Much lying in bed and crying. Staring out of the window and thinking of the past. I was taciturn because I didn’t want to burst into tears in front of the others. But I know such behavior isn’t well-received here.
Danny grabs a ball and unscrews it. She takes out the note and holds it up so everyone can see it.
“Nina,” she reads out loud.
I close my eyes and sink down. For a moment, my mind stops, I stagger through the black emptiness, then I come back to myself, slowly stand up and go to the middle of the room, where there is a lonely chair. I sit down, my legs closed, my hands on my thighs.
Danny smiles.
“How are you right now?” she asks.
“Nervous,” I answer. Some of the girls laugh.
“And in the past few days? You made yourself pretty scarce.”
“You know Rick dumped me,” I say. “I wasn’t feeling so well.”
“I think it would have helped to talk to us about it.”
“Maybe. I guess I didn’t want to be a burden to anyone.”
“Nina, we can only build a real sisterhood when we don’t hide our emotions. A sorority is not a nice weather affair. To be able to support each other, we must be completely sincere.”
I have a hunch where this is going. My pulse is racing, and I feel myself blushing. I’ve spent too many Wednesday nights here not to see what’s coming next.
“We want to see you as you really are tonight,” says Danny. “Wanna share your feelings.”
Her face is serious, her blue eyes look right into mine. Her gaze penetrates deep into my soul, and I feel impaled by it like a butterfly in a collection.
“Take your clothes off,” she says after a little break.
My heart skips a beat. There is no point in contradicting Danny. She is the president, and not obeying her would be tantamount to revolution. My whole body is covered with goosebumps. I get scared when I imagine sitting naked opposite thirty-three dressed women for an entire evening and being stared at by them. And I know that this is only the beginning of what is coming to me today.

[End of reading sample]

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