On My Own Terms
Copyright © 2021 INtrinSicliValud
All rights reserved. No portion of this book may be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except as permitted by U.S. copyright law. For permissions contact: email@example.com
For the hundredth time, I stared into the mirror, smoothing out the hem of my long skirt and checking the jacket to ensure it covered my loose blouse. Okay, okay; I was ready. No nipples under my padded bra, nothing above my knee showing, and the flared jacket did double duty, concealing my chest and my hips. After a string of waitress and barista gigs, this was the first job where I would use my degree. And I sure didn’t want to fuck it up.
With a sigh, I adjusted the heavy, black-rimmed fake glasses on my nose. Most of the videos didn’t show my face, but better to be sure. My fingers picked at the strands of dangling blonde hair to frame my cheeks perfectly—yeh, right, the fucking things just wouldn’t stay. I don’t know why I listened to my friend: “put your hair up, it’ll make you look smarter.” Fuck, the company already had my school records. After flashing a tight grin and one last glance at the nervous woman in the mirror, I picked up my bag, trotted on my low heels and headed downtown.
A bus, a subway ride, and then another bus had me walking along the sidewalk amid the early morning, caffeine-deprived, grunting masses. Soon I approached the towering cylinder that would be my work home for the foreseeable future—if I didn’t fuck it up. With a sharp intake, I stopped and rolled my head back to stare up at the steel-wrapped glass column jutting into the blue sky far above. The sun was slanting down on it, giving the glass a faint purple-pinkish hue. As I moved inside with a rush of other droopy-eyed office workers, I stifled a chuckle. This was the first time I’d been inside of a giant penis instead of the other way round.
Still grinning, I walked to the security desk to get directions, and after handing me a visitor badge, the suit-wearing, very expensive suit-wearing, guard pointed me to the human resources department. Once there, with a blessing to the coffee gods, I wrapped my fingers around the hot paper cup and waited to begin. And we all know what that’s like. Would you like insurance? Life? No, I mean, the only family I had left was my sister, and she was doing well. Health? Abso-fucking-lutely, even though I had given up my most dangerous habits, living one oopsie away from medical debt sucked. By the time I filled out all the forms, had money pointed to my pathetic bank account, and had my picture taken for my own shiny new corporate collar, uh, badge, my stomach was rumbling.
But, just as I was turning to ask where the nearest food may hide, a heavy woman flowed from the elevator, took one look at me and strode closer. Dressed in a colorful Mumu, her eyes were narrowed over her reading glasses and her gray-tinged dark hair, though pinned back, was wild and flowed behind her.
“Naomi? Ms. Duncan?”
At her high-pitched call, I nodded and reached out to shake her outstretched hand. She had a firm grip and slapped a tablet into my fingers. As she tugged me alongside, she talked—a lot.
“I’m Mrs. Hutchins. I will be your supervisor, and I guess trainer.” She punched the elevator button several times in quick succession; her nails were short and rounded, chipped polish adhered precariously to the dabbing digit.
She added. “We’ve got a meeting up top and then I can get you fitted in.”
After the door opened and we lurched inside past a rush of people dashing out, she slapped the “120” button—the topmost button, again repeatedly, until the doors surrendered and closed. While I contemplated mentioning the “Close Door” button, I thought the better of it as she stared at her phone, muttering about us being late.
“Mr. Carlton. You know who he is, right?” she said.
“Um, uh… isn’t he…”
She didn’t wait for me to finish. “He’s the boss. Ryan Carlton. Oldest son of the late founder. Young. Smart…” she paused and looked over at me, before adding as she peered over the top rim of her glasses. “Very handsome and very rich.”
“Uh huh,” I replied as my stomach grumbled once more—louder. Mrs. Hutchins’s eyes squinted as she turned away and stared at the rising floor numbers. I had the distinct impression I hadn’t provided the response she expected. With a shrug, I glanced down at the tablet she had handed me. The corporate logo gleamed up at me from the screen and I sighed.
Just then we lurched to a halt and my boss wasted no time wobbling through the doors even as they parted. With a gulp, I followed her into the cacophony of voices in the crowded waiting room before a long blond-wood and gold trimmed receptionist desk. Behind the pair of harried, though elegantly dressed and immaculately made-up young women answering and placing calls, the same gold-lined motif swept along the wall. Embossed golden lettering and an engraved replica, large replica, of the corporate badge was centered above them. This was the top of the top. Without looking up, my boss strolled past them to stand amidst the loud group clustered amongst several expensive-looking leather couches and chairs. Two double doors, same wood, same golden tracing around each, towered beyond us.
There was a sudden thump and one door opened to reveal a young woman, pretty face and long legs under a short, formfitting gray dress, rushing out. One hand slid her bra strap back up while the other clutched a matching jacket. Her makeup was smeared, her skin flushed and her hair trailed half in pins, the other half waving behind her as she staggered from the open door, between us and into the elevator. Just after stepping in, she looked back at the open door, her eyes wide, and licked her lips. That “I just got the shit fucked out of me” look… Yeh, I recognized it. As the elevator closed, Mrs. Hutchins tugged on my sleeve and I joined the human herd pouring through the open door.
Once inside the enormous office, I gazed around, open-mouthed. It was appointed identical to the reception area, with gold trimmed light wood walls, but most of the “walls” were floor-to-ceiling glass panes that provided an unobstructed view of the city. A massive, deep brown wooden desk was in the center of the room, behind which was a tall-backed leather chair. In front of the desk were two comfortable looking overstuffed chairs. The herd and me, was heading to the large conference room on one side, while a cozy sitting area centered on a broad rectangular coffee table occupied the far side.
As we swarmed past the long, broad, polished wooden oval table, I caught a glance at this Ryan guy. At the head of the table, of course, he sat with his face down, reading something on his tablet, ignoring all the “good morning, sirs.” Tall, in a fitted dark gray pinstriped silk suit that clung to his solid, broad-shouldered build, he was crumpled in the slowly swiveling chair. As I walked closer, his rugged profile came into clearer detail. Classic pretty rich boy: chiseled jaw, strong cheekbones, and not a hint of fat on his hawk-like face. Capped by dark brown wavy hair that, despite whatever had happened at his morning fuck, was impeccably placed.
We all took our seats, but then things got weird. Nobody had sat in the seat at the top of the table, next to Mr. Carlton until a drop-dead gorgeous bombshell, red-haired, lean and wearing a painted on “business” dress, slid into the chair. She was awful young to be a senior manager and sitting next to the boss, but nobody commented. Nobody stared. Nobody acknowledged anything at all. When I glanced at Mrs. Hutchins next to me, her eyes were fixed on the title slide displayed on the wall. Just as I was thinking of asking her, the lights dimmed and I looked back to see Mr. Carlton lean in and whisper into the woman’s ear. Her chair rolled closer. Now I was intrigued. And as the first speaker talked about some very complex business opportunity, I divided my attention between the slide, not really, and the motions at the far end of the table.
At first, it seemed as if she only sat close to him, but her eyes widened, then her lips parted. When her nails began to claw along the polished wood, I realized she was softly rising and falling. He wasn’t? Her eyes went wide. Her lips flew open and her head lolled back as her entire frame, snug in her tight ass dress, shuddered. Oh, he definitely was. That my friends was an alpha-grade orgasm. When I whipped my gaze around the room, nobody seemed to notice, or acted as if they didn’t notice, except her, of course, and me. Even Mr. Carlton tapped on his tablet with his other hand as she rocked next to him, trying to be quiet as she gasped for air. What the fuck was going on? As my heart pounded, I stared at my boss, but she was focused on the slides, as was every other person. Over-focused. Like jaw-twitching focused. All of them around the table.
By the time the lights raised, the redhead, cheeks and ears pink-tinged and chest heaving, had rolled her chair back. Mr. Carlton was sucking the tips of his shiny fingers and nobody appeared the wiser. With furrowed brow, he leaned in and fired questions at the presenters, beginning a lively debate about the project. The woman, her white-knuckled hands clasped together, pulsating each time an aftershock sliced through her, gawked at him, her eyes—hungry. That’s what they were. If he’d snapped his fingers, she would have straddled him and fucked him until she collapsed. And I knew that look as well—I’d seen it in the mirror and in the videos.
When the meeting broke up, Mr. Carlton stood, followed by the redhead, clenching her tablet in her still shaking hands. By the time I walked out, he was sitting at his desk grinning and waving goodbye to everyone, thanking them for attending. Like we could say no, right? Where had the redhead gone? My eyes locked on her tablet atop his on his desk. Oh, she wasn’t? His smile widened and his neck pulsed. She was. While I couldn’t see her shoes under the desk, I recognized the look on his face, tightening and clenching while the last of us attendees departed. He wasn’t waving anymore; he was clenching a pen in his hand as he hissed through clenched teeth. She was good.
Once outside, everyone sped off in all directions, stairs, both elevators, and my stomach rumbled once more. So many questions sliced through my brain, not the least of which was how the fuck was he getting away with that? Followed closely by what the hell was he thinking? Followed even more closely, by—holy crap, he had fucked one woman, fingered another and she was sucking him off even as I stared at half the people who’d watched it happen. Or rather pointedly not watched it.
Mrs. Hutchins must have heard the grumbles of my aching stomach and the aroma of cooked food struck my nostrils when the elevator doors opened onto a wide, window-lined cafeteria. It was so crowded that I stayed close as I followed her through the stations and we eventually found one end of a long table and sat.
“Okay, what the actual fuck?” Flew from my lips as I leaned in and stared at her.
Instead of answering right away, she sipped her soda, bright green, and peered at me once more like a librarian, no, a scientist. Her shiny eyes narrowed; she was studying me.
“Our Mr. Carlton is rich, powerful and looking for a bride.” She sipped again as I shook. Bride? Holy fuck. They weren’t marriage material. I knew… I knew what they were. I had been one. Her scientist eyes said she understood who they were as well.
“He… Well, he is who he is. They all meet his demographic,” she added.
“Demographic? What fucking demographic?” Chest tightening, I stared at her.
“Oh, not me. That’s for sure.” She laughed and then scanned my well-concealed frame.
“You, on the other hand; you meet his demographic.”
Okay, not so well-concealed. When I shoved my fake Clark Kent glasses up my nose, her eyes squinted.
“You try to hide it, which is quaint, but you…” Her eyebrows raised.
“Him? Oh, no.” I shook my head and held out my palms. “No, I only want a nice job. Earn some good money. Find a nice man. Settle down to have kids. No more…” I stopped and swallowed as memories, lots of memories, flashed through me. “No more anything else,” I added.
After that, Mrs. Hutchins kept quiet and ate as I looked around the cafeteria and chewed on whatever it was I had purchased. The redhead’s face. His grin. Oh. His twin piercing gray eyes sweeping around like laser beams as he grinned. My next swallow was not to ingest food. Mrs. Hutchins gave me that over the glasses look again. Still assessing. Fine, let her. With a growl, I tugged my jacket tighter, which pressed down on my blouse, bra, and my sharp nipples. As I ate, I swung my head, trying to stop myself from recalling things by gazing out the windows at the other large, towering, thick skyscrapers—yeh, sky, fucking, scrapers. Oh fuck, this was weird.
And it stayed weird. Every day was the same. Waiting before the door, it would open to emit one, or sometimes two bedraggled, swiftly if raggedly moving, well-used women, and then we would pour inside. The empty chair would be filled, sometimes by younger women, sometimes older, sometimes with wedding bands, sometimes without. When I asked Mrs. Hutchins about the married “contestants,” she only shrugged and replied. “So?” I mean, she had a point. Trading up was a thing.
And as the days went on, I studied him. He was not only good-looking. He was decisive, intelligent in a scary sort of way. The questions he asked after each presentation. He already knew the answers; he was ensuring his team knew them as well. And he absolutely hated indecision or God help the person who lied to him. As I said, he knew—everything. Despite his little contest, I found myself nodding along with his comments, jotting down his directions, and listening as he gave guidance to others. Okay, it was weird, but I liked this place. Squinting eyes and all, even Mrs. Hutchins became motherly, especially once I mastered their systems.
Then it all changed.
It was a remarkably wonderful morning, and I had my EarPods in as I swayed down the hall, looking at the latest figures from accounting. They were good. Mrs. Hutchins would be ecstatic and I did a little hip sway to the tune as I whipped into the elevator.
My chest slammed against a forearm
That forearm held an apparently full cup of coffee.
That coffee fountained upwards onto the reeling man behind it.
That man was Ryan Carlton and my happy day disintegrated into a slow motion comedy but tragedy skit. At his cry, I tried and failed to grab at the coffee, knocking his hand once more while he howled when more of the brownish, if exquisitely flavored, fluid splashed across his chest.
“What the fuck!” he cried out as coffee streamed downward. He shook out the empty cup, spraying droplets on the elevator floor, and stared at me. Those lasers—he had the most piercing gray eyes… And they were tight on me as he hissed through his teeth.
As my heart restarted and then raced, his finger slammed the button and the doors slipped shut behind me. I was so fired. Good thing my old roommates both had found decent jobs with openings. I’d have to move, but…
“Did you used to work for me?” His scowl deepened as he flung the crumpled cup to the floor.
Noting the past tense, yep, fired, I nodded.
He stared down at his dripping jacket, tie, shirt and then all the way from his brown soaked trousers to his spotted shoes. It had been a nice suit. An expensive suit. In my lifetime, I might be able to afford to replace one just like it.