‘So that’s it? We’re done?’
Rebecca stared at him in astonishment. She had not seen this coming. He swirled the whiskey that was fortifying his ability to break the news, ice clinking harshly against the glass. After gazing deeply into it, he took another lazy sip, Adam’s apple bobbing and turned to run his tanned hand possessively over the mahogany bookcases that lined the walls of the room. This was the most attention either the books or bookcases had ever received from him in all 12 years of him owning the place but it served his need to proffer his back to her and in effect his disregard. She watched his beautiful masculine hands; the dark hairs sprinkled over the smooth skin, the muscles and tendons working almost musically beneath. These were hands that had touched her often, worshiped her so many times. Hands that had punished even. Made her body soar while her mouth screamed.
As she absorbed his aloofness, the truth it told reached inside her chest and pinched her heart cruelly, telling her without doubt there must be someone else.
‘In short, yes. We are done. I’ll make sure you have a decent severance package. Better than we agreed. I’ve got Giles working on it as we speak. It should be ready by tomorrow afternoon.’
Behind him she sat quietly, long legs crossed, hands balled into fists on the arms of the plush velvet chair. She still bore the marks on her wrists from the restraints he’d used yesterday. Her pussy and ass still sore from his vigor. She lowered her head causing her hair to drift like molasses over one milky shoulder, caressing the breasts that he had paid for, since her own had not been to his liking.
‘Until tomorrow then,’ she said, rising.
‘You can stay in your room here if you like. It makes sense rather than driving to yours and coming back.’
‘Very reasonable of you. But I prefer to be in my own space where I’m comfortable.’
‘You’re being stubborn,’ he rumbled, turning to face her. ‘You’re still mine until the severance forms are signed and I can punish your stubbornness.’
She strode towards him until their faces were almost touching. With a visage like ice her next words lashed him even more so than the cool delivery.
‘You lost the right to my body and obedience the moment you said I have to leave. So with no due respect, fuck your severance forms. I will sleep wherever I choose from this night forward.’
His eyes flashed, then his arm shot out, his hand grasping her tightly. She gazed down at where they were joined.
‘You no longer have the privilege to control me Michael, let alone touch me. I no longer allow it. Now let go of my arm.’
The two locked eyes and for a few moments memories of the last two years flooded their minds. The passion. The possession. The control. The submission. The ecstasy. Then like a match lit in the dark it was gone.
He dropped her arm and cleared his throat, the word ‘privilege’ ringing in his ears.
‘Of course Becca. You must stay where suits. Thomas will see you out.’
Without another word she left the library and found Michael’s butler waiting for her part way down the corridor looking unflappably calm.
‘Ah, Miss Gallagher. Shall you be staying with us this evening?’
‘Not tonight Thomas.’
‘I’ll see you to your car then,’ he said, with a smile that said nothing and everything.
Maybe all butlers are like this.
She nodded her thanks and followed him through the halls.
The next morning she woke up to a stiff neck and the sound of bird song. She’d slept in her car in a lay by just off junction 32 surrounded by hedgerows and tarmac. For the next two hours she sat at the wheel of her car wondering what she was going to do. There was no apartment. She did not have her own place as she had led Michael to believe. When she wasn’t at his, she either slept at her mother’s, or cousin’s or in her car. And that wasn’t often. Maybe a week out of every five would she leave him – to go see her folks, to alleviate his suspicions. But the truth was she had to beg them to let her stay. Being a previous long term drug user seemed to have that effect on people – even family.
When he’d met her two years ago, she’d been clean for two months and living out of her car. She’d been scouting all day for something to improve her lot, like waitressing or bar work and had finally stopped from exhaustion for a quick smoke outside some fancy upmarket restaurant. She’d been sitting bum propped up on the wall in the best outfit she had; simple black cigarette pants, fitted ivory blouse, black pumps and the opal drop earrings her mother had given her on her eighteenth birthday. Her jet black hair was loose since she’d removed the tie, her make-up faded almost as badly as her spirit. Things were bad but better than they had been at least. So she leaned back taking a good hard drag of her Marlborough, holding it in a little, while she gazed at the stars.
And that’s when she heard;
‘Shit. I’ve found the Mona Lisa!’
Yes, Michael always had a way with words...
Still behind the steering wheel and dreading the day ahead, she recalled his confidence as he approached her that night, complimenting her on her earrings, amongst other things. Becca rested her head on the wheel, recalling the sharp cut of his suit, his cufflinks flashing beneath the street light. Ever wonder she had said yes to his proposal. God he had smelt like heaven.
All good things must come to an end…
She looked up, trying to recall where she knew this phrase from.
Chaucer. Geoffrey Chaucer. Back from her college days when she studied English lit. As she pondered this her belly began to rumble and her thirst made itself equally known. After checking her purse for cash, she started up the car and headed to the closest service station for coffee and pancakes, all thoughts of Chaucer lost yet the pain of rejection still clung tight.
Two hours later she arrived back at Dunedin Hall a little more revived and ready for what lay ahead. Thomas showed her into one of the many conference rooms where she found Michael and his solicitor Giles already waiting at an immense gleaming table.
‘Ah, Miss Gallagher. Please take a seat,’ smiled Giles, crisply indicating a chair so far removed from themselves it might as well have been in the next room.
She took a seat and waited.
Neither appeared ready to speak. Which she found odd.
After glancing at Michael, Giles cleared his throat and stood to hand Rebbecca some papers.
‘Your copies Miss Gallagher.’
He sat down again and glanced at Michael, eyebrow imperceptibly raised.
They waited till she’d flipped through the first few pages.
‘This is not a severance offer,’ she said, still slowly thumbing through.
‘No it’s not,’ Michael replied stiffly.
She stared. Hard.
He pulled the tip of his ear and leaned back in his chair.
‘Yesterday was a test. This is a test. You know how I love to test limits.’
Sitting in his slate grey Armani suit, hot as hell, body language like a panther, he exuded confidence and sexuality.
She said nothing but felt everything.
‘I want you for another two years,’ he said, matter of factly. ‘But I had to know the limits of your submission. You were angry yesterday, albeit briefly, at my intimation you were to be replaced. Not unexpected. And forgiven. It was just a harmless game. You sign those papers and give yourself to me for another two years, I will know for sure just how good and worthy you are of being my sub. My only sub.’
She stared at him in silence and another memory rolled through her head like an ocean wave.
If you are brave enough to say goodbye, life will reward you with a new hello…
Paulo Coelho, author of The Alchemist wrote that, she recalled. She had loved that book.
‘Giles, get her some water.’
Giles stood up and poured her a glass, depositing it at her elbow.
‘These are good terms my dear,’ he whispered, leaning down towards her ear. ‘All the plastic you want and you get to stay here full time. And by plastic I mean credit cards with bigger limits, bigger assets even, face lifts, tummy tucks etc. The stuff you women like. You’d be crazy to say no.’
He nodded and returned to his seat and rearranged his papers with his age spotted hands.
The panther across the room shifted in his own seat – waiting.
‘Take a drink Becky,’ he encouraged.
She flinched. He only ever called her Becky when they were alone.
She’d make damn sure there was never anymore alone.
She stood, chair firing out from beneath her legs.
‘No you take a drink, she said. ‘You and your papers.’
She raised the glass high and poured the contents over the offer of another two years. The men watched as it fell like rain, blotting out the power they thought they wielded within a few pages of ink.
‘As per our agreement two years ago, I expect only the ten thousand we agreed in my account by Monday as severance. Nothing more, nothing less. You did say it was a test. However I regret to inform you, that on this occasion you failed gentlemen. But I wish you the best of luck with any new endeavors. ‘
She stalked towards the door, her shapely figure swaying and mocking them in a jade green Karl Lagerfield fitted dress.
‘Rebbecca!’ barked, Michael. ‘Sit. Let’s negotiate.’
He so wanted to remind her he owned her. Everything she wore he’d paid for. The blaze in her eyes warned him that would be a mistake. So he smiled. Not his business smile. But the one he knew melted her panties and every part of her flesh.
‘Come on Becca, let’s talk. Sit.’
She shook her head, the curtness of it slicing the air almost.
‘I am not your dog to command. I may have worn a collar by agreement in the past. But I’m not your toy any longer. I’m better than this shit. And I’ve a life to live, things I want to do that I never finished or even got started. Like my English degree for one.’
She reached for the door knob.
‘Half a million then,’ he called after her. ‘A year.’
‘No baby. You can keep your plastic for a rainy day or for some other unfortunate. Your games are over with me. I’m done being owned or controlled by you, cocaine or any other goddamn thing.’
The door slammed shut leaving silence in its wake until the aged Giles pointed a finger at Michael and said,
‘Didn’t I tell you this was a bad idea?’