“Well, hello Zoe! How delightful to see you! How are you this fine morning?” I shut the door behind her and faced her with the best grin I could muster. She wasn’t amused.
“You better start talking, Clay.”
I placed my finger over my mouth. “Okay. Good God, Zoe, have you ever been flogged so bad that you came and cried all at the same time? I always thought I was sexy, but with these bruises, OH. MY. GOD.”
Zoe fumed while I giggled to myself. “I’m going to assume your sarcasm means that he didn’t do anything to you.”
I threw my arms in the air. “Zoe, I don’t get you. You’re as liberal as the rest of us when it comes to sex – you know how fetishes work. Everyone has something weird they’re into. Why on earth would a little BDSM freak you out? I mean, God, you remember Blaine, right? A little whipping is way the hell better than that babying shit.”
Zoe crossed her arms over her chest. “A little whipping is one thing, but having an entire room dedicated to it? That’s the kind of shit you see in movies about serial killers and rapists.”
I smiled to myself as I recalled thinking the exact same thing when Mason first showed me ‘the room’. Perhaps Zoe and I were more alike than I thought.
I stepped towards her and pulled her in for a hug. “Zoe, nobody beat me or hurt me or anything. And if they ever do, it will be because I want them to.” I pulled her back so I could look her straight in the eye. “However, I did have the most amazing sex of my entire fucking life.”
Zoe’s eyes widened and a smile played on her lips. “Really?” she squealed. “Are you thinking of dating him?”
I stepped away, rolling my eyes. “God no, Zoe. But he’d make a great addition to my escort rotation, don’t you think?”
Zoe’s face fell. “You’ve got to be kidding me. You had the most amazing sex of your entire life and you still have no desire to even try a relationship?
I shook my head. “We’ve had this discussion a million times; I’m not having it again. And anyways, he is not the relationship type either; trust me. Even you said he was a loner.”
“So make him not a loner anymore. Give him an ultimatum. It works. I’ve done it a million times before!”
I walked to my desk and spread my hands across it, lowering my head. “Not everybody approaches relationships like a hostage negotiation, Zoe. It’s not my style.”
“Clay, come on. Life is a hostage negotiation. You have to take what you want and lock it down. How do you think you got the business this far?”
I turned around and stared at the door. “I got this far by not letting anyone walk through that door and strong arm me into a relationship – business or otherwise. I got this far by saying no; a lot.”
Zoe sighed and walked to the door. She paused with her hand on the handle. “Then this business is all you will ever have.”
The words cut deep as she exited my office. I felt a strange sense of panic rising in the depths of my belly; a panic I hadn’t felt in years. I walked around my desk and plopped in the desk chair, attempting to calm myself.
I have more than just my business, don’t I? I have Zoe. I have my clients. I have my mom – and she survived life just fine with nothing but her cupcake shop business. She didn’t need my idiot father once he ran off to Switzerland. And she didn’t need many friends. She was determined; focused.
Just like me.
The panic finally started to dissipate and I found myself comforted by my loneliness. This was what I knew. It had meaning and purpose. Relationships never did. And they never would.
I picked up my phone and dialed one of the escort services. I didn’t know which one – I only knew it wasn’t Cultivated Connections. What I did know was that I needed another good fuck. A good fuck with someone I knew wouldn’t want more. I needed Toby. When I was done with him, I could reconsider whether or not to suggest a fuck buddy relationship with Mason. Until then, I wasn’t going to give it another thought.
The next day, security was still swarming our wing of the building, but I managed to get special permission for Toby to come up. The breach investigation was moving along quickly, but no solid leads had revealed themselves yet.
My conference call was running late when Toby walked in so I waved him over and moved around to the front of the desk to organize some things in case he decided to get rough. I cradled the phone on my ear while shuffled papers around. Strong hands wrapped around my waist from behind and pulled me backwards.
“Just a minute, Toby, let me get things straightened up.”
He didn’t respond, but allowed me to finish while his lips met the back of my neck and trailed down to my shoulder. It’s a good thing my phone was on mute because when he unzipped the back of my dress and then ran his finger down my spine, I gasped audibly; I had forgotten how good he was.
I waited eagerly for the Head of IT to wrap up the call, but she kept droning on and on. Meanwhile, I was getting turned on and on…
With the back of my dress wide open, but still on, Toby pulled my hair behind my head and ran it through his fingers before setting it off to the side. His fingers crawled underneath my dress and snuck around to my belly, tickling me affectionately.
“Oh God…” I murmured.
“That’s my girl,” he breathed.
My eyes shot open and the phone fell from my fist. That was not Toby’s voice. Terrified, I whirled around and came face-to-face with none other but the infamous Mason Thacket.
“What the fuck are you doing here?” I seethed.
He pinned my hands on the desk behind me. “Waiting for someone else, were you?” There was no hint of humor in his face; he was pissed.
“It’s none of your goddamn business.”
I tried to free my hands, but he held fast. “I’m hurt Clay. How could you forget our kiss so quickly?”
“Get out of my way; I’m not having this conversation when I can’t fucking move!” He released me and stepped back, folding his arms over his chest. “I’m supposed to be on a conference call, you know.”
“I think both you and I know you had very little interest in that call.” Now a grin played on his lips. God, he could change moods with the wind.
“Fuck the call – why are you here?”
“I told you: I’m disappointed you forgot about our kiss so soon.”
I scoffed. “How did you even know I was having an escort come today? Did you tap my phone?”
He rolled his eyes. “Come on, Clay, I ran a multi-million dollar company. I know how to keep tabs on people. I’m sure you do the same thing.”
“No, I don’t. Because I’m not an asshole control freak.”
He shrugged. “Fair enough.”
“Now get out of my office. I’ve got to apologize to Toby’s agency and reschedule.”
He rushed me again. He stood as close as he could without touching me, reached for my wrists, but thought better of it and angrily shoved his hands in his pockets instead. “I don’t think you understand, Clay. I told you: I don’t mess around with sex. I’m very picky about who I sleep with, and the women I sleep with do not see other men.”
“Oh, so you want a relationship?” I raised my eyebrows patronizingly. “I believe I already explained my ‘situation’ there.” I skirted around him and headed to the door, ready to dismiss him.
“Well then I guess you have a choice to make. You can’t have your cake and eat it too, Clay.”
“Wanna bet?” I opened the door.
He strode towards me as if to leave, but at the last second, he pushed the door closed and gently pushed me up against it. His lips didn’t hesitate and he assaulted me with that slow, deep kiss we had shared the day before. I could feel those familiar chills running up and down my body and I was reminded how badly I needed a good fuck.
He was doing this on purpose; he was trying to kiss me into submissions. Well, I wasn’t having it; it was time for retaliation.
I shoved him backwards, but I was still drunken from his soothing embrace. “Get out of my office.” I tried to sound menacing, but it came out more like a cat’s purr. Even as I said it, my mouth begged for his and I found myself locked in his arms again.
No, Clay! Fight it! You have to fight!
I pulled away again, which prompted a chuckle from his arrogant lips. “What’s so funny?”
“You. You’re trying so hard to fight this.”
“I don’t like being beholden to a man’s demands.”
“So you’re going to remain a prisoner to your own?”
I snorted. “At least I know what I need.” I walked towards the window.
He followed and stopped behind me, his fingers cascading ever so gently down my arm. He pressed his lips against my ear and I shuddered. “I don’t think you do.”
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