Chapter One: Can't Be Late
Melissa had thirty minutes to prepare for a critical meeting in the main conference room. The merger between Hardin Software and Abbot Games hinged on her professional tax evaluation. She sat behind her unique glass desk, scanning page after page of complex legal briefs, racing to master every subtle intricacy. She feared disappointing Grant Joplin, the senior partner who recruited her from Columbia Law School. Grant demanded that she present a good appearance and field all questions without error. She nervously glanced at her wristwatch. She had many pages to read. I'm going to be late, she fretted. Her gaze shifted to her closed office door. What if Grant becomes angry? What would he do to me?
Grant burst into her office with an angry scowl and slammed the door. Melissa tensed her crossed legs and sat up erect in her chair. Angry red veins pulsed on Grant's neck. He pointed his threatening index finger her.
"You aren't ready, are you?" he snarled.
"Almost," Melissa meekly replied. "One or two more..."
"You've had enough time," Grant roared. He removed his suit coat and unbuckled his leather belt. "I'm going to teach you a lesson."
Tingling fear seized Melissa. She knew the sting of leather. She raised her palms in protest. "Please, in five more minutes, I'll be ready."
Grant stared at her with his angry brown eyes. "Stand up," he ordered.
"Please," Melissa pleaded. "I'll do better next time."
Grant seized her arm and jerked her from her chair. He forced her to bend over her desk. "Lift up your dress," he ordered. Melissa flushed red with embarrassment. She didn't want to expose herself, but she knew Grant wouldn't take no for an answer. With both hands, she lifted her black skirt, revealing her white lace stockings. She spread her hands over her naked cheeks, hoping to shield her sensitive skin from his wicked belt.
"Move your hands," Grant commanded. "Or you'll get ten instead of five."
Melissa had to obey. She rested her hands on her desk. Her exposed cheeks had no protection. Melissa shivered at the prospect that someone might open her door and see her rendered vulnerable and exposed. She closed her eyes and waited for him to whip her. She knew this punishment was her fault. She deserved to be whipped. She heard the belt swish the air. She shut her eyes and tensed her legs, not knowing where the cruel blow would strike.
A knock at her door disturbed her fantasy. Melissa unwound her fists and exhaled. She opened her desk drawer and checked her face in the mirror. She brushed her wavy hair with an antique silver brush. She straightened her shoulders and forced a smile.
"Come in," she called.
Stacy Cheval, Melissa's paralegal and trusted assistant, strolled into the office. Stacy settled a mug of piping hot coffee on Melissa's solid glass desk. Melissa lifted the mug and took a sip. She glanced into Stacy's green eyes. "I like this brand."
Stacy nodded with satisfaction and gazed at the briefs stacked on Melissa's desk. "Are you ready for the meeting? There are a horde of tight assholes in that room."
Melissa smiled with an unconcerned wave of her hand. "Don't worry. I know this stuff backward and forwards. I could answer tax questions in my sleep."
"That will make Grant happy," Stacy said with a wink. "That man is a nervous wreck."
Stacy strolled toward the office door. She glanced over her shoulder at Melissa. "Your hair looks nice. I like the white blouse and French cuffs. Very feminine."
Melissa smiled. "I'm a tax lawyer, but I'm still a woman."
Stacy grinned. "No doubt about that. You might want to head down to the conference room. I'm sure Grant is in full panic mode."
"He is under pressure," Melissa said.
"Aren't we all," Stacy replied and strolled the short distance to her work area.
Melissa silently scolded herself for fantasizing at work. She tried very hard to keep her personal desires away from her professional world. At the law firm of Joplin & Hurst, she was a top legal mind: a person of respect. She avoided after-hours contact with the other lawyers and sealed her private life behind thick emotional walls. She collected her briefs and confidently walked down the hallway to the corner conference room. She felt hungry eyes following her, studying her hips, her full breasts, and her wavy, honey blonde hair. They can look, but they can't touch, she thought.
Grant greeted her inside the conference room. Sweat beaded his upper lip. He smiled nervously and spoke in a hushed tone. "I don't know what I would do without you."
Melissa glanced at the red leather belt around his grey slacks. "I have everything under control."
Melissa settled into a plush leather chair next to Grant. Twenty business professionals ceased chattering and waited for Grant to speak. "You all know our outstanding tax attorney, Melissa Siren. She has researched the merger in detail and will present her findings." Grant glanced at Melissa.
She shifted her gaze to the Hardin Software representatives on her left and then to the Abbot Games personnel on her right. Tense faces waited for her presentation. Melissa spoke without reference to her notes.
"I recommend a full dissolution of Hardin Software, with all intellectual property rights passing to the five shareholders. The shareholders would then grant limited interests in their intellectual holding in exchange for newly issued Abbot Games common stock. The former Hardin Software shareholders will receive the agreed ownership percentage with all taxable gains postponed until the newly issued shares are sold."
"How will the dissolution affect our employees?" Edwin Hardin asked.
"They can by hired by Abbot Games, with the 401K rolling over into a similar plan."
Stanley Abbot smiled. "I would ask if you researched the code and case law, but I already know the answer." Stanley glanced at Edwin. "If Ms. Siren recommends this option, then I see no reason for further discussion."
Edwin Hardin nodded his agreement. "Draw up the papers."
A meeting scheduled for four hours broke up in less than ten minutes. Grant made the rounds, shaking hands and taking full credit for Melissa's work. She didn't mind. The firm paid her well and she didn't much care for public relations work. She gathered her briefs and walked toward the door. Edwin blocked her exit. He offered his hand along with a friendly smile.
"Nice work, Ms. Siren."
"Thank you," she replied and pulled her hand away from his tight grip. She anticipated his scheme before he spoke.
"Could I buy you a drink after work?" Edwin offered.
"Thank you, but I must decline. If you will please excuse me."
Melissa had no interest in a skinny man with shifty eyes. His money and yacht meant nothing to her. Melissa had particular tastes not easily satisfied--certainly not by a wimp like Hardin. She returned to her office and noticed a text message on her private cell phone. Her spine tingled when she saw the sending number. She anxiously read the message: 7:00 sharp.
She snapped her phone shut. He can't boss me around like that, she thought. He doesn't call all week and then sends an ultimatum? I'm not going over there again. He's rude and doesn't respect me. She read the message again, before deleting it. I don't need him.
Melissa passed the remainder of the day reviewing legal briefs and checking her cell phone for new text messages that never arrived. She resolutely decided she wasn't going to his house at seven or any other time. He incensed her with his terse order. She would go home early, change into jeans, and walk through Central Park before sunset. She had plenty of options that didn't involve him. She left her office at five and arrived at her penthouse thirty minutes later. On her way up the elevator, she wondered if there were any calls on her answering machine. She hoped her friend Beth had left an invitation for drinks. She entered the front door and scanned the machine. The red call digit was zero.
Maybe I'll call Beth, she thought. Melissa removed her skirt and blouse. She reviewed her reflection in the bathroom mirror. She turned to the side to examine her smooth, flat belly. He likes wide hips but no fat. She became irritated with herself for thinking about him. Who cares what he thinks? She peeled away her stocking and popped off her bra. She filled her marble shower with steaming water and washed her hair with luxurious shampoo. She shaved her legs and her private places. He likes my skin smooth.
"Stop it," she admonished herself. "You're fixating on that rude man. Think of something else."
She dried her hair and flopped on the sofa. She passed the time by reading Italian travel books, with particular focus on Rome. I want to go, but not alone. She glanced at her watch. She had thirty minutes to get there. I'm not going. She glanced at her watch again. He's probably not even there. She walked to her closet and pulled a sleek blue dress from the hanger. She slipped it on, with nothing underneath. She tucked her feet into a pair of black high-heeled shoes. I know he's not there.
She rode the elevator to the underground parking garage. She sat behind the steering wheel of her red sports car and started the powerful engine. I'm wasting my time. She drove toward Brooklyn, checking her watch every few seconds. I'll drive past his window, but I know he's not there. She cruised down a dark street and slowed in front of a three-story brick house. She glanced at the big window on the top floor. Her heart skipped a beat. She saw him in the dimly lit room, sitting on his sofa with his face bathed in light from the television. She chewed her thumbnail and checked her watch; the time was six fifty-nine. One more minute and she would be late. She snatched a parking space at the end of the street and shut off her car. She checked her face in the mirror on the sun visor. I look terrible. She thought about starting the engine and driving away. Her heart raced and her face blushed. Why should I go up there? He is nobody--a truck driver. I make more money in a week than he makes all year. She glanced at her watch. I'm late!
Melissa jumped from the car and skipped down the street. She raced up the concrete steps and pressed the button beside the name Aaron Devin. The ten seconds before the door buzzed open seemed like an eternity. She raced up the wooden stairs to the third floor. She panted when she arrived at his apartment. Melissa pushed open the door and stepped inside the dark room. She shivered when she noticed his leather belt folded on the coffee table. He wore no shirt, and shadows played on his brooding face. His intense eyes stared at the TV screen. Melissa gazed at the dense muscles packed on his back and arms. Coal black hair framed his young but menacing face. That he didn't acknowledge her presence sent a chill up her spine. She pulled the door shut, locked the deadbolt, and eased her way to the far edge of the sofa. Her gaze never left his face. She knew he was angry and she worried about what he might do. She gazed at his callused, powerful hands. She admired at his smooth chest, bowed with muscle. She knew he was as strong as he appeared. She smiled and spoke nervously.
His deep voice interrupted her. "You're late."
Her spine stiffened. "I'm not late. Maybe a minute or two. The traffic was bad."
His gaze remained fixed on the TV. "I said seven sharp."
She brushed her hair away from the side of her face. "I wore the dress you bought me. Do you like it?"
"No," he replied tersely. "Take it off."
"But I don't have anything else to wear."
He jumped to his feet and pointed at the door. "Then get out!"
She recoiled from his outburst. "But I just got here!"
He stared at her with his troubled blue eyes. "You're fucking with me, aren't you?"
She raised her palms to her face. She feared he might lose his temper. "I came to see you, just as you said."
He seized her arm and held her wristwatch to her face. "I said seven sharp."
She cowered from his powerful grip and the rage boiling in his eyes. "Can't I stay for a few minutes?"
"Take off that dress. I don't like it."
Melissa stood. She timidly slipped the straps from her shoulders. The silk garment dropped to the floor, leaving her naked and exposed. He surveyed her intimate places.
"Turn around," he ordered.
Her lips quivered. "I swear I came as fast as I could."
She did as he ordered; fearing what might happen if she refused. Goose bumps rose on her flesh when his strong hands seized her breasts. He pulled her into his arms. His hot breath rolled over her skin. He licked her neck and pinched her erect nipples until they stung. Melissa hissed from the sharp pain, but she dared not protect herself. He dug his hands in her thick locks and pulled her toward his bedroom. He stopped on the way to retrieve his belt. He shoved into the dark room and slammed the door. He pointed his belt at her. His face contorted with frustrated passion. "I know you're fucking with me, and I've had enough. I'm going to teach you a lesson you won't forget."
Melissa backed away until the wall prevented her from moving further. He stalked her like a wild animal. He spun her to face the wall. He forced her to push out her hips. She balled her fists and begged.
"I'm sorry. I swear..."
A painful stroke of his belt crossed her thighs. She winced and squirmed.
He grabbed her hair and growled in her ear. "Be still." She closed her eyes and waited for the next blow. The cruel belt stung her ass-cheeks, not once but three times. She wanted to shield her defenseless flesh with her hands but she feared his wrath. After a final stinging blow, he spun her around to face him. Sweat dripped from his disturbed face. He cupped her face in his powerful hands and starred into her frightened eyes.
"You are beautiful," he hissed through his clenched teeth. He slapped her legs with his bare hands. "Why do you torment me?" he asked.
"I'll do whatever you say," she answered and kissed his face. "You scare me."
He lifted her into his arms and flung her onto the bed. He ripped off his pants and spread her knees. She glanced at his throbbing erection. Excitement tingled along her spine. He pinched her nipples and licked her neck. He seized her face in his rough hands. "I'm going to whip you until you cry."
"I'll be good," Melissa promised and reached between his legs. She felt heat pouring of his body. She tried to please him with her touch. He lay on top of her and forced his way inside. She gasped from his size and his strength. She caressed his troubled face and kissed his ear. "Pleased don't hurt me," she whispered.
"I'll do whatever I want," he growled.
He fucked her as hard as he could. His anguished face contorted with pleasure and rage. His blue eyes bored into her. "You have a fever," he panted. "I'm your cure."
She wrapped her legs around him and closed her eyes. She trembled from his anger and his passion. Her butt and legs stung from his merciless blows. Her nipples ached from his pinches. The sweet pain inflamed her desires. She kissed his face, immersed in ecstasy. His body pounding on hers forced raging passions to rise from deep inside. She locked her arms around his shoulders and whispered in his.
"Fuck me and whip me. Make me suffer. Make me beg."
He leapt off the bed and jerked her to her feet. Sweat drenched his tormented face. He pushed to wall and locked his hands on her neck. "You drive me insane," he ranted. "I should punish you."
Melissa stared into his feverish eyes. She stroked his erection. "Punish me, make me cry."
"Damn you!" he shouted and rolled his eyes back into his head. "You drive me mad."
He slapped her ass with his bare hand. Each blow forced Melissa closer to orgasm. He slapped her and teased her soaking clit until her back arched. He shoved her on the bed and fucked her wildly. Her orgasm built until she couldn't restrain it a second longer. She dug her fingernails into his back and held her breath. For several minutes, her world stopped. The purest passions were released from Melissa's soul.
She lived for these magic moments that no one could possibly understand. She clutched the man who forced her to the edge and then shoved her over. When her muscles relaxed, she gazed into his yearning eyes. She blew on his face and kissed his tender lips. She held him in her arms until he found his release. She knew his brief orgasm was enjoyable, but nothing like hers. They slept tucked under the sheets for an hour or more. When they woke, Aaron pulled her into the living room and made her get dressed. Without a word, he escorted her to the street corner, into a family-owned eatery. They sat in a candlelit enclave and he ordered wine. In the flickering light, Melissa admired his rugged features.
He sipped his wine and stared at her. "Blue is a good color for you."
His compliment made her feel good. She smiled. "I'm glad you like it."
He reached for her hand and locked his fingers into hers. "Did I hurt you?"
"No," she replied softly with a warm smile. "Everything was perfect."
Aaron shifted his gaze to the checkered tablecloth. She wondered if something bothered him. "What is it?"
"I have a vacation next month. Do you want to go to Rome?"
Melissa could hardly believe her ears. In the two years she had known him, he had never once taken her anywhere. She assumed he didn't want to be seen with an older woman. She suspected that he had many others lovers, younger and more attractive than she.
"Are you asking me to go to Rome with you?"
For the first time, he seemed uncertain. She smiled at his unexpected shyness. She squeezed his hand. "I'd love to go to Rome with you. Thank you for asking."
A smile widened on his young face. He spoke in a whisper. "I was afraid you would say no."
"I've always wanted to go to Rome, but not alone. We'll have a great time."
He nodded. "I don't make loads of money, but I found a decent hotel. I hope you like it."
She leaned over the table and kissed his tender lips. "I promise I'll like it."
She enjoyed their romantic dinner together. She knew sexual release allowed him to relax, for a while. He laughed and told her amusing stories. As time passed, his face tensed and his mood darkened. She sensed pressure building inside him. She knew he needed relief and she was more than willing to give him whatever he wanted. He paid the bill and led her from the restaurant back to his apartment. He pulled her up the stairs. He pinned her to this apartment door and locked his hand on her throat.
"You enjoy toying with me, don't you?"
Melissa shook her head. "No," she gasped. She sensed his frustration.
He caressed her hair. "You lied to me about Rome, didn't you? You said that just to mess with me."
She shook her head. "I really want to go."
He dug his fingers into her hair. His raging blue eyes peered into her. "I know you are playing with me."
She caressed his troubled face, trying to sooth his frustration. "I'll whatever you say."
He opened his apartment door, grabbed her arm, and pulled her inside.