Brimstone Series Book 2 – Episode 4

Stacey 

 

‘Hey Stace, I kind of ate the chicken parm in the fridge . . . is that okay? Sorry but I was starving, and it looked so good!’ It was one of the rare nights Abbey was staying home, and that disheveled hair was clue enough to tell me where she’s been.

‘Yeah, that’s fine. I’m not eating in today,’ I replied, voice raising at the end. I didn’t pry, definitely not wanting to know why she was so hungry.

‘Oh really, big date?’ She asked, tone even.

Damn her psychology minor, I didn’t know what gave it away. Though there would be no reason to lie to her; I wouldn’t have to tell her who I was going out with. And besides, she could be great help in helping me choose what to wear.

‘Kind of,’ I said, almost shyly. ‘Although I’m not sure exactly what to wear.’

She nearly leapt off the ground to her feet. ‘Well, what are best friend’s for?’

We spent half an hour playing clothing matchmaker, going through everything in my wardrobe. It’s been a while since I’ve been on a first date so most of it was boring, monochromatic work clothes.

‘Hm, this won’t do,’ she said firmly, shaking her brunette locks. ‘Look what Todd did to you.’

The mention of his name still sent of pang of pain through me. ‘Oh well, I guess the navy dress then?’

‘The navy – ‘ She held up a hand, breathing out a big sigh. ‘Oh Stacey, how far you have slipped. Look, when is your date?’

I allowed her to call it that because I was too deep in this lie, though underneath the formal title of “business dinner”, that’s exactly what this was. ‘Seven-thirty.’

She glanced at the Michael Kors on her wrist. ‘Well, we have just over an hour. We’re going shopping and you’re going to thank me for it later.’

‘Is that really necessary?’ I groaned, feeling tired from the workday. My muscles ached and feet were sore.

‘It wouldn’t be if your wardrobe didn’t scream “past the hump”. Let’s go.’

We made the most of our hour at the Manhattan Mall, where all the brand-name retailers congregated in one building. Though I was only looking for a single outfit for tonight, I somehow left with two dresses, two sleeveless blouses, three skirts, dark-wash jeans jeans, a pair of peep-toe pumps, and a maxi-dress. I didn’t even want to know how much damage that did to my American Express.

‘You look fucking hot,’ Abigail said firmly as I put on my chosen outfit for tonight, a cream sleeveless blouse, the dark-wash jeans, and the peep-toe pumps. ‘I’d do you.’

‘Ugh, shut up,’ I said, sticking out my tongue. ‘But honestly, thank you for doing this Abbs, I look so much cooler than that boring navy dress.’

‘Ditto. It’s great you’re getting back in the game. You should get going now, don’t want to be tardy. And if you need me to clear out of here . . . I could always go to Luke’s,’ she winked.

I blushed, and a slick heat captured me as I played her insinuation in my mind.

I wouldn’t mind making that a reality. As I left the apartment, a small smirk tugged at my mouth. I enjoyed dressing up for Chris. I wanted to impress him tonight.


Chris 

 

It’s seven thirty-two.

She was late. I didn’t like it when people were late, because I treasured my time. We all got the same amount of it, so why should I waste mine waiting for others? It’s a sign of disrespect.

It’s now seven thirty-three.

I’ve had business deals fall through because clients were late to meetings. Unless it’s a huge whale of a client, I have a strict five-minute policy for meetings. If you’re five or more minutes late, don’t even bother showing up.

Seven thirty-four.

I didn’t know what I’d do if Stacey broke that same policy. I wanted this dinner a lot more than a business meeting, but my values were firm. However, I couldn’t see myself walking out of here in two minutes.

While I was sipping angrily on the lemon water, thinking about how I’d scold her when she arrived, I saw her.

Fuck, she looked good. That sleeveless blouse fell above her tits in the most flattering way, giving them a perky demeanor. Her red toenails, same shade as her hair, was revealed in a pair of open-toe heels, and speaking of her hair, it was straightened to perfection, the long flowing strands reaching down to just above her ass.

But those fucking legs. I didn’t know who created those jeans, but he or she deserved a damn fashion award because those jeans hugged her thighs and calves like a second layer of skin, a perfect fit. Long and round, all I could think about was parting those thighs with my knee and slamming into her.

She finally saw me, and began walking towards the table, an easy smile over her face. I, however, could not return it. Though I just took some water, my mouth dried and my snarky comments disappeared into the background.

‘Hi,’ she said, voice husky and rich.

My dick was screaming for release, and that voice didn’t help. ‘Hi yourself,’ I replied, suddenly finding mine. ‘You look . . . I don’t even have the words Stacey. You look just sexy.’

She laughed a genuine, full sound that I’ve never heard before. It was high and sweet, a mixture of girl and woman that was a beautiful song in my ears.

‘Well thank you, I had some help from Abigail,’ she said as her eyes scanned me. ‘You look pretty sharp yourself boss.’ She stopped a beat at my chest, and yesterday’s encounter ran through my mind.

‘It’s one of my better black suits,’ I chuckled, feeling completely old-fashioned compared to her. Several of the male patrons noticed her as well, and I spent a few seconds glaring at each of them.

‘So, tell me about yourself Stacey,’ I said after we ordered. While I wasn’t a big wine-drinker, I got a few last-minute tips from Luke. ‘Where are you from?’

She raised a brow. ‘I thought this was a business meeting,’ she mused, those hazel eyes making my dick squirm.

I smiled. ‘This is business. I’d like to get to know my employee.’ She rolled her eyes, and that defiant attitude made me want to grab that hair.

‘Fine. I’m from Galway,’ she began. ‘It’s a port city in Ireland.’

That explained the red hair, ivory skin, and that hint of an accent I had a hard time pinning down. ‘That sounds lovely. Are your family still there?’

She smirked at me. ‘Do you ask about everyone’s families, Chris?’

I leaned forwards, arms resting on the table. ‘Only people I’m interested in.’

She looked away for a brief minute, her eyes leaving mine, but she quickly recovered, a slight hint of amusement dancing on her lips. ‘Yes, my family is still there. Both my parents and my brother. They work on a fishing boat.’

‘Hmm,’ I breathed. I couldn’t imagine Stacey hauling fish out of the blue waters. She seemed too intelligent for that line of work. ‘Are you familiar with the oceans?’

‘I love the ocean,’ she said, smiling at me. ‘It’s the thing I miss about home the most.’

I tilted my head. ‘Even more than your family?’

I could see her deciding how much to say, and apparently she decided to leave it alone. ‘What about you?’ she asked, changing the topic. ‘What’s your story?’

I decided not to press. ‘I grew up in California, and transferred to Connecticut for Yale. After working for Garrett for a few years, I decided to open my own firm here with my siblings.’

‘Garrett is?’

‘My father,’ I said acidly, and she understood from my tone.

Our food arrived, and we spent the next hour continuing getting to know each other. I would have never guessed that she was always short and skinny as a child judging by her healthful, lanky physique now, which somehow I have developed a taste for.

She told me about growing up in Ireland, being raised Catholic but later deciding to forgo religion. I had a suspicion that played a hand in her questionable relationship with her parents.

I grit my teeth as she told me horrible stories of growing up poor, of being a hungry little girl living in low-cost rentals with broken heaters. Having to move from place to place, and as a result, enrolling in too many schools to count.

She was never given an opportunity to hold onto friends for more than a few months at a time, and worked jobs since the age of ten to provide for her family.

I would have left as soon as I could too. Thankfully, her excellent grades landed her a scholarship in the states, and she’s been staying here on a work visa ever since.

Somehow, she never complained once as she talked about her terrible childhood, and mixed in with my perverse attraction to her was now a genuine respect.

Plates nearly empty and wine flowing, we were inside our own bubble, completely entranced by the moment. She intrigued me completely, and I felt comfortable sharing personal anecdotes about myself as well, a sign that she was an avid, honest listener. Then, that all changed.

Suddenly, her eyes fixated on a spot over my right shoulder, and a nervous look fell on her face. Then, a strained smile. ‘Hi Damon,’ she said tightly, and a tall African-American man strode beside me.

‘Stacey . . . hello,’ he said, and immediately my skin began to crawl. There was something off-putting about this fucker. ‘I hope I’m not interrupting, it’s just so nice to see you again.’

‘You too,’ she said, forced, and her lack of effort in the conversation should have been clue enough for any normal man.

‘Is this your boyfriend?’ he pointed to me without looking. It took all my willpower not to break that finger right off his hand.

‘Oh, no. No, it’s nothing like that,’ she explained firmly. As if she was trying to convince him. As if she was trying to convince herself.

I knew that this dinner was under platonic premises, but hearing her clarify it still felt like a punch to the gut.

‘Well . . .’ he said in almost a slither. ‘Well maybe we could grab a drink sometime. I never asked you since you were working under me –’ his hand moved from hers to her shoulder. Her exposed shoulder. She leaned away from his touch, obviously uncomfortable, face contorted in a pained expression. ‘ – but I think you’re very, very – ’

‘Get the fuck away from her,’ I said in my most authoritative tone, standing and with one swipe, knocked his hand off of her shoulder. ‘Take a hint, asshole.’

If he was surprised, he didn’t show it. A devilish grin spread over his face. ‘Or else what?’ he muttered, tilting his head sideways, staring into me. He had the air of arrogance of a man who was used to intimidating others.

I stood between him and Stacey. ‘You don’t want to find out,’ I warned, flexing my fists. ‘Trust me.’

Face to face, I realized he was a huge individual, standing an inch or two taller than me. He had broad shoulders as well, and his frame was massive. I wasn’t sure if I could take him in a fight, but I wouldn’t mind trying.

I felt Stacey’s hand on my wrist. ‘It’s okay Chris, it’s fine.’

‘It’s not fine,’ I growled without turning my attention away from the man in front of me.

He looked me up and down, as if analyzing his chances of winning a fight. He must have been impressed with what he saw, because his voice turned jovial. ‘Take it easy friend, we’re just talking.’ He looked at Stacey, who was now standing beside me, tugging at my hand. ‘Call me sometime doll.’ And then, he strode away.

‘You didn’t have to do that Chris,’ Stacey sighed, folding herself into the chair.

I narrowed my eyes at her. ‘Of course I did,’ I scowled. ‘I saw the way you reacted to that pervert – you hated his touch.’

She rolled her eyes. ‘I didn’t need you to save me, I could have handled him myself.’ Her voice was full of annoyance, and I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

‘I don’t give a shit Stacey, I will do what I need to protect you,’ I snarled, and her face twisted up at mine, looking into my eyes. ‘It’s not your decision.’

‘Not my – ’ She cut herself off, shaking her head and breathing deep, and soon, her face was back to the calm canvas I was used to seeing. ‘Why, Chris?’ she asked in a normalized tone. ‘Why do you want to protect me? Who am I to you?’

I shook my head, deciding whether to just say what I’ve been thinking this whole time. ‘I don’t know,’ I muttered. ‘I’m too fucking annoyed right now to cross that boundary between employer-employee.’

Her eyes bored into me, filled with something close to disgust, making me feel like I did something wrong. ‘Then I don’t feel like this dinner needs to continue.’

She stood up, collected her things, and dug into her purse for a bill.

‘Stacey, don’t be ridiculous,’ I muttered, grabbing her wrist. ‘This meal is on me.’

She was stronger than I anticipated, and thrust out of my hold, setting down her money. ‘I wouldn’t want to cross that boundary between employer-employee, boss.’

That word cut into me like a hot butter knife, and I didn’t have time to react as she stormed away. ‘Fuck,’ I muttered as I quickly threw down a few bills and slipped into my coat. ‘Stacey!’ I yelled towards her direction, but she ignored me and those long legs moved quick, and suddenly, she disappeared from view.

Using my full stride, I ran after her. This night wasn’t going to end like this.


Stacey 

 

‘Mind your own business!’ I called out as his strong hands grasped me and whisked me around. He moved fast, as I was barely able to walk three steps away from the restaurant before he caught up to me.

‘It’s dark out,’ he said calmly, not even breathing heavy from the explosive run. ‘I am not letting you walk home alone with that creep lurking close by.’

I pulled away from him and kept walking. ‘Whatever, dad,’ I muttered.

He quickly set pace beside me, and we walked silently for a few minutes before I realized I had severely underestimated the October evening cold. I gripped my elbows in an effort to warm myself up, my exposed arms littered with tiny goose bumps. ‘You’re shivering. Here,’ he said as he removed his pea coat and hung it over my back. ‘This should help.’

Though I was still pissed about him treating me like a child, the thick material infused with his body heat warmed me immediately, and I didn’t refuse the gesture. ‘Thank you,’ I murmured.

‘You’re welcome,’ he said gently, so gently it was as if he was asking for forgiveness. ‘Who was that guy anyways? You were under him?’ The jealousy was blatant in his tone, and I issued a laugh quietly.

‘Damon owns the art gallery I used to work reception for,’ I explained. ‘It was obvious that he had a thing for me ever since day one, always giving me extra attention, making the effort to touch me as much –’

‘Details not needed,’ Chris seethed, and I wondered if there were limits to his jealousy.

‘Okay then,’ I agreed. ‘But that’s what he meant about me working under him.’

‘I don’t like him,’ he said firmly. ‘He’s a creep and you deserve better.’

I laughed, wisps of smoky white air protruded from my mouth, an omen of the coming winter. ‘Better? Like who, who do I deserve?’ I wanted to tease him because he was so reluctant to just tell me the truth. If he was going to toy with my feelings, I wasn’t above playing with his.

As expected, that triggered no response from Chris, and we walked silently until we reached my building. He stepped in front of me and turned around to face me. ‘I – I’m sorry about what happened tonight,’ he said as I gripped his coat tighter, the wind biting through me. He, on the other hand, may as well be in the Bahamas, barely showing any signs of chill. ‘I shouldn’t have fought your battle for you.’

I was surprised; I’ve never heard Chris apologize for a single thing in the short time I’ve known him. ‘I appreciate that,’ I said, ‘And though it ended early, dinner was delicious and I had a good time.’

‘As did I.’ He was staring at my lips, and I knew exactly what he wanted. His square, masculine jaw flexed and I knew he was fighting the urge to just leap forward and kiss me. He was waiting. Waiting for my approval.

A hotness pursed up my body at the realization that he was waiting for me. The control felt right, and somehow, I was turned on by the authority he allowed me. But I was at a crossroads on what to do next. I’ve fantasized about this man for weeks, and the urge to give into his green eyes was nearly undeniable.

But if I learned anything from my poor upbringing, it’s that feelings pass, and one must be pragmatic to secure their future. I was in America on a work visa, and that meant I must be employed. What would happen if Chris and I didn’t work out? I knew that he’s not going to fire himself, and the other partners all shared his last name.

I remembered the two associates that I let go because of their office romance. Neither of them had the threat of deportation on their backs, but they still reacted as if their lives were over when I issued them the bad news.

No, I had to let this go, because even though the man was sex on feet, this job was the best thing that ever happened to me, and I was not about to squander my future on some fleeting, hormonal fling. I did not want to return to Galway and the fishing boats.

‘I should be going, Abigail’s waiting on me,’ I offered gingerly as I handed his coat back to him. His eyes flashed waves of hurt and confusion, and he stared at the coat in his hands, unmoving, not saying a word. ‘Good night Chris.’

But he didn’t reply, he stood as still as a statue.

Deciding that this was my cue to leave, I walked up the steps and opened the door. Before I closed it, I couldn’t help but take another glance back, and my heart nearly broke as I saw him still standing in that position, staring into the coat he held with both hands.

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Brimstone Series Book 2 – Episode 3

Stacey

My lips were puckered to the side and my fist tucked under my chin. I had spent at least half an hour just standing there, nerves keeping me from resolution.

Beginning the process again, I flipped through my small, limited closet. I wasn’t sure what to wear today. Normally, I wouldn’t give my wardrobe this much thought – I preferred classic pairings, but today I was battling with internal morals.

On one hand, the thought of dressing up for Chris appealed to my lewd sexual fantasies, which have not stopped, but rather they increased in frequency after I began this position, the proximity as kindling to my fire. But on the other, the thought of his invitation for lunch being more than just a business move was damn hard to believe.

He was an iron curtain, his demeanor solemn, words few and far between. Our typical interactions were mechanical and brief, which is why this invitation was that much more bizarre. I didn’t see why we couldn’t discuss business in the office, so it was either a way to grow our employee-employer bond, or . . . he had ulterior motives.

I caught those green eyes boring into me before he left hastily, and I wasn’t sure how to interpret that. It could have been in attraction, and if so, I wouldn’t mind living my fantasy of him ripping off my skirt and bending me over right there in the office. Yes, sign me up and throw away the receipt. But it could also have been in regret; perhaps he was unhappy with my performance so far.

Picking out conservative navy dress pants and a white top, I decided to play it safe, thinking that things will work out if they are meant to be. Little did I know that it wouldn’t matter at all.

It’s now past noon, and I haven’t had a second to even use the washroom, much less think of anything else. I’ve been signing quarterly bonuses, read fifty-four pages of New York safety codes, and made about three dozen phone calls to find two more associates to replace the two I just had to fire.

Why? The two of them decided to bump uglies in secret, and now that they broke up, their sour tension was affecting everyone’s mood. I had no choice but to fire them both out of fairness, which meant we needed replacements, fast.

I had seven interviews lined up in the next three days, two of which were today. The first candidate should be here any minute now, and out of common decency, I moved to conference room B to honor Luke’s privacy.

An instinctual smile spread across my face as the door opened, as I wanted to make a good first impression on the person I potentially had to work with. Looking up, my eyes grew wide as not Kevin Spence, the five-foot-five interviewee I was expecting, but a six-foot-four Chris walked in. Shit, I totally forgot about lunch. ‘Hi,’ I said distractedly.

‘Hi yourself,’ he said more casually than normal, a small grin at the corner of his mouth. ‘Luke said you moved here. Was there something wrong with his office?’

His lighthearted demeanor was curious to me. ‘No, no, nothing wrong. Luke has been very welcoming to me. Steve visits a lot though.’ To make room for me, Chris moved Steve to Jacob’s office. As far as could tell, they treated the dude like a glorified associate, but though he made a whole scene about having to leave, he was always cool with me. Though it did strike me as strange; Chris could have easily put me in Jacob’s office.

‘Oh?’ He said, scratching his square chin. Though it wasn’t even one o’clock yet, his stubble was already fighting the results of his morning shave. ‘Did you want to move to my office?’

My brows raised. Did I get water in my ears in the shower this morning or did Chris just offer to have me work in his office? Though this made my theory of ulterior motives that much more convincing, I still couldn’t be sure. Maybe he was just offering to be polite, and as uncharacteristic as that seems for him, it made sense if he was trying to improve our work relationship.

‘No, no, that’s not necessary. I’m quite happy where I’m at,’ I said politely. ‘And I wanted to apologize to you, I don’t think that I’ll be able to do lunch today, I’m due for an interview any minute now.’

He frowned while folding his arms and staring at me. An awkward silence passed between us. I looked away, pretending to be busy with paperwork. I wasn’t sure if he was disappointed at the felled lunch plans or my refusing his invitation, but part of me hoped it was both. After a few moments, he found his tongue. ‘Right, of course. Another time then.’

The door opened. ‘Hi, are you Miss Kavanagh?’ A young, handsomely dressed man with a briefcase entered the room.

I smiled at him and shook his hand. ‘Yes, you must Kevin. Thanks for coming on such short notice. And this is Christopher Brimstone, he is the – ’

‘Oh my goodness, it’s an honor!’ Kevin gripped Chris’ hand and shook it fiercely, staring up wide-eyed at him. ‘I can’t believe I’m meeting you sir, how are you?’ He was obviously no stranger to Chris’ impact in the law universe.

Though Kevin was more than friendly, Chris had a horrible scowl over his face. ‘Fine,’ he muttered irritably as he yanked his big hand out of Kevin’s grasp, and left without saying another word.


Chris

Thanks for coming on such short notice.

It was obvious she didn’t want to have lunch, but instead of telling me the truth, she used a last-minute interview as a means to avoid spending thirty minutes alone with me.

And the way she smiled at that kid when he walked into the room. She never smiled at me that wide when she saw me. That coif-haired fucker is never getting to work at this firm, I’ll make sure of that.

I don’t know why this bothered me so much, I was no stranger to getting rejected by women. Unlike my brothers, I didn’t have natural confidence or a personality that put women at ease around me. Before Abigail, there was a year where Luke and Jacob used to go clubbing all the time, and I’d always refuse their invitations. I just didn’t know how to be around women; they were too complicated for me.

It took me years to understand that you shouldn’t be direct with them, but I didn’t have another gear. I didn’t have the patience to play the chasing game like Luke did. I didn’t have to charm to have girls melt like Jacob. Hell, I didn’t even have the weird, twisted personality like Steve did that some girls found adorable. I made peace with the fact that I didn’t have game a long time ago, and it’s why I put all my energy into work.

But getting rejected by Stacey felt different. There was a pit in my stomach, a hole there that I couldn’t ignore, and I didn’t know how to fill. It felt like I lost something, even though she was never mine to begin with.

I begrudgingly wolfed down a ham sandwich from the deli downstairs, not even tasting it at all, and tried to focus on my write-ups. Half and hour in, I barely had two sentences typed up. Cursing, I decided I needed to go to the gym and work this off. After my first and only girlfriend broke my heart in college, the gym was the only thing that kept me from wasting away in my room.

Grabbing my workout bag, I jogged to the Gold’s two blocks away, where I had a membership. Their change room was under construction, so I decided to change in the bathroom stall, not wanting that little inconvenience to get in the way of my workout. There was a park on the way back with an outdoor shower and I could change back into work clothes at the office.

Two hours later, my chest and back were burning. That nauseating pain of rejection still throbbed, but at least my mind was clearer. After finishing my last set of pull-ups, I grabbed my items from the locker and headed for the park. Thankfully, it was a cloudy day, so few people were there to witness me wash myself.

By the time I got back to the office, I was feeling much better. My body felt light, and my mind was focused enough where I felt like I could work again. Swinging shut my office door behind me and closing the blinds, I began changing, slacks first. But before I could get my dress shirt on, I heard my office door open and crash into the wall.

‘Shit,’ I muttered as I swung around, realizing I didn’t flip the lock. My breath caught in my throat as I saw Stacey standing in the doorway, her eyes firmly glued to my chest, mouth slightly ajar. Her eyes glimmered a hungry hue, and fuck, I wanted to fill that open mouth. A moment that seemed to last an hour passed between us, and then we both spoke at once.

‘Fuck, I didn’t – I forgot to –’

‘You’re – why are you –’

‘Change room was closed –’

‘I’m so sorry for bursting in –’

‘Can I help –’

‘I’m going to leave now.’

And she slammed the door closed, leaving me alone again. I blinked a few times, processing what just had happened.

Slowly, I slipped into my dress shirt, and grinned to myself as I adjusted the cuff links.

She left in a real hurry, but not before she had her fill of me with her eyes, which meant that, oh yes, there was still a chance.


Stacey  

Holy fuck, holy fuck, holy fuck.

Legs wobbly, I sat down on the toilet cover, finding solace in the bathroom stall. My heart was pounding, and my breaths deep and labored. A wet heat burned between my legs, and I knew exactly why. Christopher Brimstone was a fucking Adonis.

I went to his office to apologize again for missing lunch today and to reschedule for another time. I was expecting him to be sitting at his desk, on his computer like usual.

I did not expect him to be topless, and I definitely did not expect myself to be this aroused. I couldn’t help but stare at his exposed upper body, and he was much more muscular than I remembered.

His shoulders and chest were thick and bulky, the heaving muscles catching the afternoon light in their glorious size. The maze of his abs were defined and stretched beautifully over his long torso, flexing with each breath.

I’d been using mental snapshots of him clothed during vibrator hour as the image of him by the pool had become fuzzy in my head, but now, I had plenty of Chris porn to work with.

Pushing my underwear to the side, I found my womanhood and rubbed in a circular pattern, the carnal pleasure immediately rushing through me. I imagined that they were his fingers, and began stroking more firmly, like how I thought he might do it.

With my other hand, I slipped two fingers inside, imagining that it was him inside of me. I thrust my fingers rhythmically in and out, and tried to push in as deep as I could with every stroke. Though I had no idea how big he was, I had a general ballpark from Abigail’s stories about Luke. They were brothers, and if genetics had anything to do with it, Chris was packing heat. Scrunching my face, I diverted my thoughts away from my best friend’s fiancé, and imagine Chris’ hardness splitting through me, filling me up.

Before I knew it, I was right there to the point of orgasm, and forgot that I was in a bathroom stall with my back leaned against the questionably-clean toilet tank. In my mind, I was pressed up against Chris’ hard body, and he was taking me from behind, taking what I was willing to give. What I wanted to give. I issued a guttural moan as I found my release, reality rushing back to the forefront of my consciousness.

‘Oh my god Stace, that was so fucking hot. What were you thinking of?’

I froze, the sound of Jillian’s projecting voice reverberating off the slate walls. There was little I could do; she knew I was in the stall and she heard everything.

‘I’m so sorry Jill, I – I’m so embarrassed,’ I said sheepishly, standing and opening the door. ‘I had no idea – fuck I’m sorry.’

‘Don’t be sorry, trust me, I’ve been there,’ she said convincingly, and I cringed. This woman was a little too comfortable with me for my liking. ‘Just tell me what was on your mind and I’ll keep this between us,’ she winked. ‘I might want it for myself later.’

Nausea rolled through me at the idea of telling her what I was really thinking, so I quickly made something up. ‘Oh. Uh, you know, Dwayne Johnson?’

She let out a whore moan right there in front of me. ‘Oh my fucking god, yes, I would let that man do whatever he wanted to me. Those muscles are panty-droppers.’

‘Yeah,’ I laughed nervously. ‘Right then, I should be getting back to work. You won’t tell anyone about this right?’

‘About what?’ she said as she continued washing her hands, frowning as if she had no clue what I was referring to.

I let out another nervous laugh before leaving briskly. Walking quickly back to Luke’s office, I was startled to find that it wasn’t empty like it was before I left.

There was a man sitting in Luke’s chair, but it wasn’t him. It was the other managing partner. ‘Hi again,’ Chris rumbled, and the mere sound of his voice made me breathe a little faster.

‘Uhm. Hi,’ I managed. I don’t know why he wanted to see me so soon after I embarrassed myself in his office. I would have though that he would want to avoid me for at least a week after that awkward fiasco.

‘Do you have dinner plans tonight?’ His voice was confident, alluring.

I swallowed dryly. I had leftover chicken parmesan that I was planning to tidy up, but something about the way he was staring at me made me want to find out where this was going. ‘No, not really.’

‘Good. Then let me take you to dinner. To talk business of course.’ He put obvious emphasis on that word, and at that moment, I knew. I knew that he wanted me as much as I wanted him. It was a satisfying relief to finally understand where I stood, but at the same time I couldn’t let him know the feeling was mutual or else he’d hold too many cards.

‘Sure,’ I said simply, brushing any lust off my face. ‘Seven-thirty?’ He could pick the place but I wanted some control too.

‘Sounds good to me. I’ll send you the restaurant details.’ He rose, and began making his way out of the room. As he passed me, his arm made contact with mine, and I sensed his hard triceps through three layers of fabric. ‘See you later,’ he said slowly.

‘See you later,’ I mimicked quietly, nearly a whisper. And then I was alone. Alone and seeking release once more.

Brimstone Series Book 2 – Episode 2

Chris

There was just too much to do and not enough staff to delegate to.

Tyco was taking up all my time, and the associates were getting stressed, even more than usual. Each of them had a stack of papers the height of Olympus next to their desk.

Tonight was going to be a late night, but unlike other stretches of time where that spanned only a few days, the entire month of October was going to be late nights.

Bursting into my room, Jillian held an eerie grin on her face. ‘So, how did Stacey interview?’ She wanted the answer to be “fantastic” because we needed to start hiring again, and I was just too busy right now to give a shit.

‘Not so well,’ I firmly, scratching my chin. ‘And those oak doors are expensive. If you bust a hinge, that’s coming out of your paycheck.’

‘Shove it up your ass,’ she sneered. ‘And why didn’t she? She’s a dynamo.’

I sighed. ‘I have to admit, her ideas were good, and she had a sharp eye for weeding out bad hires.’ It took me a lot of control to say that, to compliment her. I don’t know why she got on my nerves so easily, even just the thought of her, her judgmental eyes and her quick mouth.

Jillian pressed her palms onto my table top, interrogation style. ‘Then why the FUCK have you not offered her the position yet?’ She exploded. ‘If you haven’t noticed yet, Captain Asswipe, we are severely in need of new hires, and we both know the only person here with enough free time to interview them is Steve.’

I forced out a chuckle. I imagined Steve with his dumb grin interviewing people. Soon, this entire firm would be full of attractive blondes, and dive-bombing straight to the ground.

‘You think this is funny?’ Jillian demanded, folding her arms. She was the scariest person I knew, even if she was my sister. Luke and Jake are fluffy bunnies compared to her, and it’s probably why my business relationship with her was the strongest. She was headstrong where I was more cautious. She forced me to see the benefits of taking risks, and our firm would still be in the minors if she weren’t part of the team.

I waved my hand. ‘No, I just imagined Steve hiring people . . . the crazies that he’d let through those doors,’ I grinned.

She snorted. ‘Exactly, we both know that’s not happening. So are you going to hire her or not? Stacey.’

I averted her eyes. ‘No,’ I said bitterly, like going back to the topic of Stacey was uncomfortable for me.

Her nostrils flared. ‘I’m going to ask you again. Why not?’

I shook my head, contorting my face into a pained expression. ‘You didn’t see her today Jill, she was snarky and rude. She left without saying goodbye, just walked right out the door. I am not hiring someone with that kind of attitude.’

She stared a hole through me. ‘We are not running a goddamn therapy school here. We’re in the results business, I don’t give a shit if she didn’t say goodbye before she left,’ she growled. ‘Do you want to start holding hands and singing “Kumbaya” at the start of every day?’ I rolled my eyes. ‘No? Then offer her the damn job Chris. I’m serious. Our firm is redlining it, and we can’t take another week of this.’

She slammed the door behind her.

These fucking women and their sudden departures.


 

Stacey

I needed a drink.

Working all day at the front desk of an art gallery, smiling to pretentious wealthy socialites was bad enough, but the thought of Chris forcing me to fire that boy was still fresh.

The good news was that Abigail was meeting me at the bar, where they serve my favorite drink: Manhattan with extra cherries.

She was already sitting by the counter, on her phone, most likely texting Luke. Those two were joined at the hip – they can’t go five minutes without shooting each other a snap or an update.

Their chemistry was so . . . well, lets just say that I’ve never seen two people look at each other with tenderness and cutting hunger all at once. I wondered what that mixture of love and lust was like. I wouldn’t know; I never had that with Todd, the man I left in Washington.

Todd and I worked because he allowed me to be the boss of the relationship. I wasn’t anyone’s “baby girl”, I needed someone who worked around me – or so I thought. A few months in, the novelty of it wore off, and my attraction for him slowly slipped away. And as it did, I felt the suffocating weight on my chest grow heavier and heavier.

It began affecting our relationship, and between my dry libido and his hectic work schedule, we stopped having sex. Completely. I never knew how important sex was to me until I began spending hours a night with every as-seen-on-TV pleasure toy I could get my hands on just to stay sane.

But I still had feelings for him. He was always so caring, so thoughtful, and that nurtured bond held strong. It’s probably why I disregarded all the signs. Late nights “at work” every night, the smell of perfume on him when he came home, the way he became paranoid of my loyalty, ironically. I guess projection really is a thing.

My emotional connection with him made discovering about the affairs that much worse. My heart broke when I found out about the first one, and shattered into a hundred fragments when I found out about the second. He never complained about our withered sex life, and now I knew why.

She was lucky, I thought as I approached Abigail. Luke was an easygoing guy, upbeat and positive, and therefore easy to love. It was strange to think that he grew up in the same household, with the same parents as the man who interviewed me this morning because Chris was the exact opposite. Critical and cold, nowhere near lovable.

Not that it mattered to me either way.

‘Hey Abbs,’ I murmured as I pulled into the seat next to her, dropping all my things and slumping into the chair. ‘Thanks for coming out.’

‘Are you kidding? I’d never miss a chance to get one of these,’ she chirped, holding up her Cosmopolitan.

‘A Manhattan, please, extra cherries,’ I told the bartender, who gave us a small frown. Cosmos and Manhattans were time-consuming drinks to make, and the place was already quite packed for Happy Hour. ‘Thanks,’ I smiled, as I slipped him a handsome tip, turning his frown upside down as his hands doubled in speed.

‘How was the interview? That was this morning right?’ she asked hopefully.

‘Yeah it was, but don’t look so happy for me,’ I sighed. ‘I don’t think Chris liked me.’

She frowned. ‘What do you mean? You’re one of the most work-saavy people I know. You and Jillian are like pit bulls.’

I gave her a look with lifted brows. I respected Jillian’s work attitude immensely, but she was a hot-headed woman.

‘Okay, she’s a pit bull, and you’re more of a German,’ she giggled. ‘Both fierce, is what I’m getting at. Now give me the details, girl.’

My drink was served, and I slipped a maraschino cherry in my mouth, savoring the sweet explosion. ‘Where do I start? How about that he moved on after showing me only two out of five mock hires?’

She flipped her hair back, and I saw a few hungry guys stare at her exposed neck. Ring or not, Abigail was a man-magnet. ‘Easy explanation,’ she said. ‘He was impressed early, and he didn’t see the point in continuing. You must know as well as me by now that Chris doesn’t like to futz around.’

I shrugged. ‘Maybe.’

‘Oh hush, not maybe, definitely,’ she said defiantly. ‘What else?’

I took a sip of the bittersweet mixed drink. ‘He made me fire an associate,’ I said darkly. ‘Right in front of him.’

Abigail’s jaw lowered slightly. ‘He did that?’

I nodded, taking another portion of the brown concoction past my tongue.

‘Wow, that’s a bit too far, even for Chris,’ she said breathily. ‘Did it bother you?’

‘Firing someone? No, I’ve done it before,’ I replied, shaking my head gently. ‘It wasn’t the firing itself, it’s that it felt like a show, like he was using that boy to make a statement.’

‘Statement?’ she asked quizzically. ‘What do you mean?’

‘I don’t know,’ I sighed, staring into the shelves of liquor behind the counter. ‘Maybe it was to tell me that he could fire anyone at anytime? Maybe it was to let me know that he could ask me to do anything? I don’t know, he technically could do either of those since he’s Captain Chris or whatever, but the whole thing just felt fucking cruel.’

We sat there sipping on our complicated drinks for a minute in silence.

‘Look Stace, you hate working at that gallery. I know you do,’ she began, and I rolled my eyes to the whites in obvious agreement. ‘This would be a perfect fit for you, this job. I hope you aren’t thinking of turning it down.’

I snorted. ‘You’re talking as if I have the job already. You didn’t see him in person today Abbey, he was so irritable.’

She placed my hand in hers. ‘Just please tell me you’ll take it if you get it.’

I swirled the remaining cherries in the drink a few rounds before replying. ‘Fine, I promise, but only because that fucker Damon at the gallery is such a creep.’

A wide smile broke out on her face as she puled me into a hug. ‘Oh, you’re going to be such a great fit, Stace,’ she exclaimed, and I couldn’t help but feel her infectious positivity spread through me. ‘And yes, you need to keep as much distance as you can between yourself and Damon. He screams bad vibes. Listen, I got to go, Luke wants me, and you know how grumpy he gets if he has to eat alone. Go easy on the drinks won’t you?’

I gave her a knowing nod. ‘Yeah, sure mom.’

She rolled her eyes while packing up her things. ‘I’ll talk to you later?’

‘Sure. You coming home tonight?’

Her smirk was too lewd for public. ‘Uh . . . probably not,’ she giggled.

‘Ugh . . . go, just go,’ I moaned.

I stared into the empty drink, and decided I shouldn’t order another. I could feel the darkness pulling me in, the same darkness that swallowed me up for a whole week after I broke up with Todd.

I used to be quite liberal with my alcohol intake in college, but afterwards, I cleaned up my act and reserved it only for social events. However, that week after finding out about Todd’s two little blondes re-opened the gates. It was the reason I decided to move back with Abigail; I needed someone to keep my shit in check.

Throwing a bill onto the counter, I began walking home, where I’d be spending the night alone and trying not to think about Todd.


 

Stacey

I spent most of the night preparing dinner. Though it was only for one person, I loved fresh, homemade meals, and smiled into the skillet when the chicken and risotto looked golden brown and ready to eat, the rich aromas wafting into my nostrils.

After a delicious meal and half a glass of wine, I saved the leftovers in the fridge – Abbey loved it when she found little treats like this.

I didn’t know what kind of freaky circus they were running over there, but every time she came back from Luke’s, she’s starving. I shuddered slightly at the thought of them going all Fifty Shades on each other. I wouldn’t even know who would be the dominant.

Shaking my head free of perverse thoughts involving my roommate, I walked to the bathroom, slipped out of my wears and moaned in appreciation as the hot water hit my body. As I rubbed the body wash over myself, I noticed that my limbs were defined, my belly flat. It’s all a result of a single kettle bell that Abigail stole from Luke’s. I wasn’t so sure stealing from her fiancé was a great idea, but I’ve gotten so much fitter with it that the results were worth the guilt.

‘He won’t notice, he never uses his home gym,’ she said with a roll of her eyes. Though Luke was quite fit, I could see what she meant. He reserved this mansion of an Air BNB for the engagement party, all-inclusive with an outdoor pool in the backyard. I’ve seen him topless, and while he had a large frame, his body was more lean and designed for cardio.

Unlike Chris.

Call me shallow, but I had a thing for muscular guys. When Chris took his shirt off next to the pool, I wasn’t sure if he was a lawyer or a Spartan warrior. While he was just an inch or two taller than Luke, his chest and arms were much bulkier, more defined, giving him the appearance of being much larger. His visible abs caught all of the late afternoon sun, and when he popped out of the water, all wet and glistened, I found myself staring at that hulking bod.

Abruptly, I felt a stir in between my legs, the image of Chris leaping out of the swimming pool like a damn Olympian stuck in my mind. Removing the showerhead, I turned to a lighter setting, and aimed the water between my thighs, a sharp moan escaping my lips. Using my free hand, I pressed my middle finger onto my clit, rotating softly but rhythmically, biting my lip to contain the pleasure.

A hotness rushed through me, warmer than the water itself. The fire spread from my sex down to my toes and up to my neck, flushing me with heated desire. I didn’t know if this was wrong, to be getting off to my potential supervisor, but I didn’t care, and somehow the thought of him being my superior turned me on even more. I was seconds away from release when the ring of my phone filled the room, and I was so startled that I lost most of what I had built up.

Cursing quietly, I wrapped a towel around myself and checked the call ID. Shit, it was from Chris’ firm. Taking a deep breath to clear the desire out of my voice, I mentally prepared myself to speak with his assistant.

‘Hello?’ I said as evenly as I could.

‘Hello Miss Kavanagh,’ a deep, rumbling voice called out. I froze, realizing that Chris called me himself. The desire between my thighs flared to life again, and added to it was the mixture of fear that it was going to be bad news. After my talk with Abigail, I realized how little I enjoyed working at the gallery, and began hoping that this would be a fresh start for me. ‘This is Chris. Do you have a minute right now?’

Swallowing as quietly as I could, I replied. ‘Hi Chris. Yes, of course. What’s up?’ Immediately, I bit my own tongue. What’s up? Who the hell greeted their potential boss like that? As far as Chris was concerned, we weren’t buddies.

Seemingly un-phased, he continued. ‘I wanted to talk to you about your interview this morning.’

His voice gave nothing away, and I thought for sure, this was going to be bad news. He was such an irritable ass this morning, and because of that, I felt like I had no chance. ‘Yes, I’d be glad to.’

He cleared his throat, like he was preparing to hit me with a painful blow. I pursed my lips. ‘Well, you did a great job. When can you start?’

My head spun. That was even more surprising than potential bad news. I was speechless, my mouth hung open and the towel nearly fell from my body as my grip loosened. There was an undertone of reluctance in his voice, but I didn’t care. I got the job. I got the fucking job.

Clearing the celebratory cobwebs, I issued out a reply. ‘I’ll need to let my supervisor at the gallery know, but I should be able to start in two days, Wednesday.’ While it was common policy for employees to give at least a week’s notice, I knew few girls who would love to throw plastic smiles for a paycheck, and I would provide Damon with an immediate replacement.

‘Good,’ his deep voice boomed. ‘See you Wednesday, eight am. Congratulations.’

The line went dead, and I didn’t know what to think as I finished washing the soap off my body. Drying myself off, the towel brushing against my swollen lady parts reminded me that they were unsatisfied from the unfinished session.

I got the job. He didn’t hate me.

Remembering that Chris was the object of my desire, and now officially my boss, I blushed a shade of scarlet as I slipped into bed. Moving a hand downwards, I found my clit once more, intending to finish what I started, and his muscular torso entered my mind again.

Instead of fighting it, I allowed myself the fetid desire, using my other hand to pinch one of my nipples between the index and my thumb, rolling slowly. A muffled cry filled the room as I released it from underneath the blanket, my mouth partially covered.

I lost myself in the sensations, rubbing, rolling, before I slipped a finger inside myself, realizing that I was already wet from my lewd fantasy. Breaking through all inhibitions, I gained pace, and quickly the fire filled by body once more.

‘Chris,’ I whispered with desperation, as if begging for his presence.

Maintaining steady motions, I brought myself to a carnal explosion, a long, deep wail of desire flooding the room as my muscles locked in position for the duration of the event. Breathing heavily, I suddenly felt empty and tired, and after blinking a few slow times, drifted off into a deep sleep with the realization that I made myself orgasm to the thought of my boss.


 

Chris  

The next few weeks passed in a relaxed, busy pace, with Stacey running hiring and associate structure. She’s been bringing in solid hires, and for the first time in a while, our firm wasn’t running on fumes.

To say that she was adapting to the position well would be an understatement. Other than bringing in six competent associates within her first two weeks, she’s also managed to make the associates keener to take initiative in their cases, now that she’s reassigned them to ones that matched their dissertations.

I haven’t had to micromanage nearly as much, and as a result, I’ve been able to put my total focus onto Tyco’s class action. With a reduced work plate, I’ve been able to go home earlier than I can ever remember, and even getting eight hours of sleep most nights.

I wasn’t sure if it was the increased sleep hours or what, but I’ve also been getting more dreams at night. Dreams about her.  

They came to me nearly every night, my mind unable to get Stacey out of my head as I wound down with my head on the pillow. I could toss and turn for hours – and I’ve tried – but in the end, a shameful tug was the only way I’d be able to get her out of my head. But then she’d return again as I slept.

The dreams were always set in the firm, mostly in my office, but sometimes in Luke’s, where she set up home base. I had to evict an unhappy Steve because we didn’t have enough space to give her a private office, and there was no chance in hell I was about to leave her alone in the same room with my playboy of a brother, Jacob. But Luke wasn’t ever present in my dreams, thank the lord. It would just be Stacey and myself, alone, but frustratingly, I could never touch her.

This led to me waking up every morning with painful morning wood that would not deflate unless taken care of, and between that and the pre-bed sessions, I went through Kleenex like a pneumonia patient.

I tried to keep my delusions to myself, but having her working thirty feet away from me every day didn’t help. I’d catch myself using the bathroom every twenty minutes just to catch a glimpse of her. That flaming hair was so fucking long, reaching her lower back when she let it down, but during work hours, it was always tightened at the base into a ponytail that was just begging to be grabbed. I was visiting the bathroom so often that our office assistant, Diane, advised me to get checked up for a urinary tract infection. That’s a fun conversation to have.

But her hair was just the start of it. She had a perky set of tits that my eyes couldn’t stay away from, and the inability to explore them was torture. Whenever I would see her from the back, my hands twitched every time with the thought of filling themselves with her tight little ass cheeks. Oh, and not to mention her legs were literally a mile long.

However, my perverse attraction for her was simultaneously juxtaposed by irrational irritation. I knew how difficult her job was, considering Jillian and I split the load for years before we could afford hiring an HR manager. There was always a complaining associate, a slew of shitty hires, and firing was never fun. It took me nearly a year before I felt competent with all the office politics, but Stacey did it all without breaking a sweat.

For some reason, her natural competence bothered me. I knew she worked in HR for a few months in Washington, but it was like she found my tasks child’s play. Every time I’d deliver a new idea – which I found plenty, using them as excuses to talk to her – I’d be given a curt, ‘Sure’, and afterwards she would implement it better and faster than I imagined. She never complained, her quick fingers and bright eyes analyzing every situation with efficiency, finding the best route of application.

The woman was a damn cyborg, and while I should be happy with the results – she’s every employer’s dream – her frosty indifference towards me left me leaving the office every day in desperate dissatisfaction.

I needed to get closer to her, to break that icy wall, because I couldn’t handle her cold shoulder any longer.

But I needed to be smart about it. My little idea chats weren’t getting me anywhere, and asking her for drinks held too dicey of implications. Deciding that inviting her to a work lunch was a good middle ground, I entered Luke’s office one morning without knocking, the door already wide open as it always was.

For a moment I thought the space was empty, the desk that I built the only thing I could see. I decided to turn my spare bedroom into a wood shop, because instead of subjecting them to store-bought particle board crap, I wanted to handcraft all of my siblings’ desks. Being tall men, Luke and I naturally opted for desks higher than the industry standard.

Scanning the room, a flash of red caught my eyes, and I noticed that hair poking out from behind the desk. I walked around, coming up from behind her. She was examining a collage of papers spread on the floor, but I didn’t give a shit about the papers; I was focused on her position. Bent over at the waist, she was kneeling, with her flats tucked underneath that ripe little ass. She decided to wear a knee-length skirt today, but in that position, it was riding up her sides, giving me a clear view of her milky thighs. Even on her knees, her head came to my waist level, and perverse thoughts raced through my mind.

I felt my pants tighten in response, but before I could leave to compose my situation, she turned around – thank goodness for the chair behind me – and I sat down immediately, hiding my blatant erection.

‘Oh, Chris,’ she said, in that cool tone she always used around me. ‘What can I do for you?’

I swallowed. There were several things that she could do for me right now, but I didn’t feel like asking and getting arrested today.

I cleared my throat, which seemed to be thick and heavy all of a sudden. ‘I wanted to see if you were available for lunch today.’

I saw something change in her eyes, a faint glimmer that only lasted for a fleeting moment. It was so quick that I wasn’t sure if I imagined it. And then I was left with her cold look, that impersonal glance that reminded me there was nothing between us. ‘I’m swamped today,’ she motioned to the collage of papers laid beneath her, and I saw that they were profiles of the associates. She didn’t say anything else.

Fuck, she was so closed off, but I haven’t wanted anything this badly in a long time. I needed to find an opening, and I think that would require an attitude change. ‘So, how’s it going with the associates?’ I asked, trying to get her talking.

She frowned, as if that was a stupid question, and a flame of annoyance flashed within me. ‘Good, but there’s still several issues needing correction,’ she said, tilting her head. ‘I think you should allow them more responsibility.’

This was good. Her tone was still chilly, but at least she’s stringing more than three words together. ‘Really? Well, I’d be happy to discuss more, but, I’ve got a lot of work to do too. Is there another time when we could mull this over lunch? Maybe tomorrow?’

She bit her lower lip, and my eyes flickered downwards before returning to her eyes. Juicy and full, they were yet another part of her I wanted to take. But she needed to give me a chance. Just a fucking chance.

‘Sure,’ she said, slightly warmer than before. Another shot of annoyance, less sharp, sprung through me, but mixed in was an arousing elation. She returned to the profiles, dismissing me wordlessly. Instead of taking the cue, I stared at her kneeled body with hunger, resting my gaze on her hair. That fucking hair.

I must have stood there for an obviously long time, because she looked over and said, ‘Was there something else Chris?’

Snapping out of my fetishical trance, I mumbled incoherencies before giving an awkward nod, and couldn’t leave fast enough. I caught something on her face as I turned around to leave, something on her mouth. It turned up slightly in the corners, a bud of a smile.

It gave me a strange joy to know I created that smile, even if the cause was my fumbling exit. It meant she wasn’t totally immune to me, and that there was a potential for something, but I didn’t know what that something was. A connection. Maybe more.

I spent the rest of the day feeling unusually light, the hours melting by, and just before I finished my last write-up, I heard a knock at my door, and I groaned internally at what was sure to be another delivered task.

To my surprise, it was Stacey, her long flowing hair down, signaling the end of her work day. She waved her long fingers at me. ‘See you tomorrow.’

Composing myself quickly, I cleared my throat. ‘Good night, Miss Kavanagh.’ She offered me a faint smile before leaving.

She’s coming around, I grinned to myself. And as I watched those long, long legs walk away, I realized I was holding my breath.

Brimstone Series Book 2 – Episode 1

Chris

This morning was straight out of Satan’s asshole.

I woke up to a long, deep dent of red paint on the back bumper of my Escalade. Whoever hit and run me didn’t have the balls to leave a note, so I had to call insurance for about an hour, spending most of my time listening to some guy without chest hair complain about his grandma’s cooking.

The fucking Knicks can’t win a game to save their lives right now. Carmelo Anthony has been dog shit for us; have they heard of something called defense?

Oh, and my third-biggest client, the online jeweler giant Michael Vandeross, has been poached by those snakes over at Dawson’s firm. Apparently, our associates haven’t been up to par, and I’ve been so busy handling Tyco’s Listeria class action that I delegated some of Michael’s work to them.

Associates whom our human resources manager hired.

As the captain of this ship in the sky, my job was to make sure that the fires were tempered and the right people were passing through the door. As Tyco began eating up all my time, my sister Jillian forcibly asked to me to find an HR manager to oversee the hiring instead.

The first one I fired two days in, the second didn’t last one morning, and the third isn’t staying much longer after this recent fuck-up.

‘I’m telling you Michael, we aren’t going to get blindsided like that again,’ I said evenly, pursing my lips. ‘We’ve had some shit associates slip through our ranks, that’s all.’

‘And that isn’t my problem,’ he sighed. ‘Look Chris, you’ve been very consistent for me the past few years. We’ve done some good business together, but that has been the second screw-up in the past month. I’m sorry, I don’t have confidence in your dedication to me anymore.’

The associates were to blame for this latest fiasco, but the other time Michael was referring to, I was passed out drunk at Luke and Abigail engagement party.

Love and business don’t mix.

‘Give us another chance,’ I asked in the closest tone I knew to pleading. ‘Whatever those fuckers at Dawson sold you, it’s most likely snake oil.’

‘Well, I’ll just have to find out myself then,’ he said, finality to his voice. ‘I’m sorry it couldn’t work out Chris.’

He hung up.

Fuming, I set the phone down and placed my palms on my desk, gripping the mahogany surface I sanded myself.

I couldn’t fire Luke for inviting me to his engagement party, but I sure as hell could fire that new HR manager for letting second-rate associates into my firm.


 

Chris  

‘Jesus Christ, why the hell did you dump that one?’

Jillian stood with her arms crossed over her chest, a vicious scowl over her expression.

‘Why? Well, out of the four new associates he hired, only one of them knows how to file a fucking liability waver, and the one who does works at the speed of shit,’ I returned bitterly.

Jillian’s look became icier. She wasn’t afraid of my authoritarian attitude. Even though Luke and I were technically the managing partners of this firm, Jillian was the underground Queen, making sure the small fires didn’t become massive ones.

She dealt with the sludge and fine issues of our firm, and had a hand in almost every one of our cases. I respected her immensely for that, but that didn’t mean she could boss me around.

There could only be one man at the top.

‘It took me two weeks to find this one,’ she exclaimed, throwing her hands up to make the most of her tiny frame. ‘He hit all, and I mean all twenty-one checks you wanted. I heard about Vandeross, but give the guy a second chance.’

I sighed deeply, shaking my head. ‘No, no second chances. That’s the law around here and you know it.’

‘Oh my god, shove it up your ass,’ she raged, crossing her arms even tighter.

I didn’t respond.

‘Fine, I’ll spend the next week looking for another victim you’ll tear to shreds,’ she lashed before turning to leave. ‘Also, we’re meeting at Red’s tonight. Everyone. You’re coming too, it’s a Friday.’

Before I could refuse, she slammed the door on the way out.

Women were amazing at the fine details, but too fucking emotional.


 

Chris

As I swung open the massive wooden door, I heard an awful racket fill the air.

Looking up at the karaoke stage, I saw my brother Jacob with his arm around my cousin Steve. They’re clearly drunk and sharing the microphone, doing no justice to Beyonce’s “Halo”, and scanning the room, I notice that several patrons aren’t exactly pleased.

I made my way to our usual booth, which has become quite crowded with the addition of Abigail and Stacey. I slip in next to Stacey, scrunching my face up at Luke, whose mouth was busy invading the one of the woman next to him.

‘Christ, is that public indecency ever going to stop?’ I groaned as I ordered a Bud.

‘I know you’re just jealous,’ Luke said, grinning a dreamy, puppy-eyed smile that made me regret coming. ‘I’m not going to keep my hands off my fiancée in front of you freaks now that everyone knows.’

‘I don’t know what you’re talking about, but I don’t want to know where your hands are right now,’ I scowled. ‘And it’s been three weeks since she agreed to a lifetime of your shit. You’re still high off using that word?’

‘Fuck you, and yes, my fiancée loves it.’

Abigail laughed. I didn’t know how she found this boy scout funny. ‘How are things at the firm, Chris?’ Her bubbly voice asked.

I glanced over, and Jillian loaded me with an icy stare in between her conversation with Stacey. ‘Not the best week,’ I sighed, taking a deep swig of the beer. ‘Had to fire our HR manager, and another four associates.’

‘You fired Jack?’ Luke asked, frowning and shaking his head in quick, small movements. ‘We were going to the auto show next weekend together. Damn it Chris, we finally find someone man enough to enjoy a classic paint job, and you had to go all Captain America on him.’

‘In the first week. This is the third one we’ve been through this month.’ Jillian’s snarl made me glad that Stacey was in between us.

‘Wait, are you looking for a new HR manager?’ Abigail asked, using her chin to point at me because Luke held both of her hands captive in his.

He’s not. I am,’ Jillian complained. ‘Suck a dick Chris.’

Before I could retort, Abigail chimed in. ‘Why don’t you hire Stacey? She worked human resources in Washington.’

All eyes landed on the woman next to me. She had an undertone of an accent that I couldn’t place, the words coming out with a twist at the end. ‘Sure, but I wasn’t the manager,’ Stacey emphasized. ‘And that was a government job, a lot more structured than a law firm.’

Structure? I made sure to keep my firm structured. That’s why Jack and his donkeys were free agents again.

Besides, you needed iron judgment to differentiate between an interviewee who actually wanted a career, and one that was just looking for another resume-booster. Stacey had a good head on her shoulders, but she was still a woman, and women turned into wrecking balls five days a month.

I knew she was still looking for a permanent job right now. If she had a law degree, I wouldn’t think twice about hiring her as an associate, but HR manager? I don’t think so.

‘We’re in the middle of a few other candidates right now,’ I replied, shrugging. ‘Besides, I’m not sure how smart it is working with friends.’

‘I’m your friend,’ Luke teased. ‘And my name is on the wall next to yours.’

‘That’s only because we popped out of the same woman Brimstone,’ I said after taking another sip. ‘You’re damn lucky.’

He devoured Abigail with another wet kiss, and we were all recoils from this side of the table. ‘Yes I am,’ he said dreamily.

‘My vote is with Stace as well. I’m tired of looking through profiles only for them to miss two or three of your impossible demands Chris,’ Jillian urged. ‘Give her a shot.’

‘Jill,’ Stacey began, sighing. ‘It’s really not necessary.’

‘Come on Chris,’ Abigail said in a voice so sweet I could taste the honey. I could see why Luke answered her every beck and call.

‘Yeah, come on Chris,’ Luke grinned, knowing exactly how much I was hating this right now. ‘Make my fiancée happy.’

‘I – Well,’ I stuttered, and all eyes were on me, even Stacey’s big hazel irises held a dash of hope. Sighing, I said, ‘She’ll have to come in for an interview, but fine, why not.’

The table exploded in a cheer, and I barely heard Stacey’s thank you.

Fucking peer pressure.


 

Chris

The October Monday sky was gray and masked by a fleet of clouds as I made my way to the firm. I lived comfortably close to the building, but morning traffic in Manhattan was still a bitch and a half.

The minivan in front of me was a little too leisured after the light turned green, and I didn’t hesitate to blast my horn at him. ‘Get off your fucking cellphone!’ I yelled into the enclosed cabin. Shaking my head, I glanced up at the sullen skies and I felt exactly the same way inside.

Actually, I’d been regretting agreeing to interview Stacey all weekend.

The sting from the Vandeross loss was still heavy in my head, and I needed a solution to our loose hiring problem, not another weakness point – which is why I wanted to oversee hiring again.

It’s not that Stacey was a pushover; she oozed confidence. She had the balls to quit her cushy government job in DC and come back to uncertainty in New York, for crying out loud. While she wasn’t in a fulfilling career right now, I knew that she wouldn’t have too hard a time finding what she needed.

And anyone that could win Jillian’s seal of approval was worth their salt. The only other person Jill liked as much as Stacey was Abigail, and everyone loved Abigail. Jillian didn’t have many female friends, and it’s because most found her intimidating. She was an alpha to the end, only liking people who were comfortable with themselves and told her the truth from day one. Problem was, most girls in New York were plastic smiles and behind the back shit-talkers.

Pulling into the underground parking spot reserved with my name on it, I relaxed a bit, thinking maybe Stacey wouldn’t be too bad a fit.

But my slight change of heart wasn’t going to stop me from going all Captain America on her in the interview – if she was joining the team, she would have to prove she can handle stress.

She was waiting for me in my office; I could see that red hair through my office window from across the floor.

I had my hand on my door, but didn’t open it immediately. She was looking out at the city – my office had a view of the Japanese-inspired garden behind our building.

I felt a strange curiosity rise in me, watching her. She must have been wearing heels because she looked a mere two or three inches below my six-four. Stacey was a naturally lanky woman, with legs that went on for days, and stuck out like a scarecrow when she was with Abigail and Jillian.

It’s been less than a month since she moved back from Washington, and I have only talked to her a handful of times. She wore a suit jacket to the trial and a conservative dress to Luke’s engagement party – nothing revealing. I noticed her figure, sure, but any man with enough testosterone would give her a second glance. Besides, she was Abigail’s best friend, so I immediately filed her into the “unavailable” category.

But I’ve never seen her in business attire before today, and I couldn’t ditch my curious itch. She wore a simple white button-up blouse up top, but it was the bottoms that grabbed my attention. The blouse was tucked into a skinny black skirt that hugged her thighs and tight little ass cheeks, and I couldn’t help noticing that slim, curvy figure. Her calves peeked out from underneath the skirt, toned, and like everything else about her, long. Pitifully, I had the sudden urge to run my hands all over them.

Collect yourself Chris.

Taking a deep breath to cleanse the stars in my brain, I turned the knob to open the door, and as she turned around, my sight instinctively landed about a foot and a half south of her eyes. Her skin was ivory, and that peeking valley between her breasts glowed in the morning sun. She issued a warm smile and I forced one back, hating myself for thinking with my dick.

‘Hi,’ she said cheerfully. Too much damn energy for the morning.

I set down my overcoat and stuck out my hand, but she had other plans because right as I did, she came in for a hug. Instead of either working out, she was left at arm’s length with my fingers wedged into her cleavage.

‘Shit!’ I uttered, overwhelmed with embarrassment and instinctively, I backed up immediately, but not before noticing her eyebrows shooting up to her forehead.

‘Fuck, I – I’m sorry,’ I muttered, unable to meet her eyes. ‘Fucking shit way to start an interview.’ My hands went from my pockets to clasped in my front to hanging awkwardly by my sides.

To my surprise, instead of leaving a red palm print across my cheek, she burst out laughing, which lessened the tension in the room. She stuck out her hand as a truce and I breathed a huge sigh of relief.

I shook it, forcing myself to look into her eyes. Those hazel halos hid something, something she wasn’t saying.


 

Stacey 

That’s one way to start the morning. Being a tall girl, I was used to being gawked at, but never touched so abruptly like that. If it was any other person other than my best friend’s soon-to-be brother-in-law, I’d have connect my shin to their balls.

Long legs gave me good range.

Also, I wanted this gig and when I wanted something, I did what needed to be done to get it. Even if it meant laughing off an accidental boob-spearing at nine in the morning.

Returning to New York from Washington, I was afraid I wouldn’t find another job that suited me as well as HR assistant. I loved telling people what to do, because I was never wrong. Call me whatever you wanted, just don’t crying back to me when you realize I was right. I knew that my confidence was easily mistaken as arrogance, but those haters could fuck off.

Watching Chris lay his documents neatly across his desk, I studied his features. A square, strong jaw underlined his face. His chin pointed out slightly, giving him an eastern-European look. His eyes were green, a color he shared with his siblings, hooded by distinct brow lines, and he kept his hair shortly trimmed.

Not the worst package in the world.

But I shouldn’t let that incident betray his platonic intent. He wasn’t interested, and the way he flew back four feet after touching me was a clear indication.

He cleared his throat; it was a masculine, guttural sound. ‘So, Miss Kavanagh,’ he said in his deep tone, ‘Thanks for coming in so early.’

‘No problem, Chris,’ I replied lightly, and at that, he lifted a brow. Clearly in professional lawyer mode, he was not impressed that I thought we were on a first-name basis.

This wasn’t the huggable drunk from Abigail’s engagement party anymore.

‘I meant, of course Mr. Brimstone,’ I corrected myself. Something about that name felt right on my tongue.

‘Well then, let’s get started,’ he said, closing the door and sealing us inside his office.

It was a minimalistic room, with two bookshelves and his desk being the main furniture pieces. The shelves were littered chock full of law texts, and I wondered if he actually read every one himself. On both walls hung photos of him with former clients, and a pattern emerged as I scanned each photo. The person he was shaking hands with almost always had a wide smile on their face, while he looked into the camera with a tight expression.

Somber bastard.

‘The position of HR manager is one full of responsibility,’ he began, eyes unmoving. ‘You’ll be the one hiring, firing, and maintaining firm structure as well as associate morale.’

Something told me that with Chris at the helm, the associates were lacking in the morale front.

‘We work long hours here,’ he pressed further. ‘This isn’t a nine to five; I’ll expect you to be here by eight and leave no earlier than six most days.’ His mouth was curved into a frown, and his voice like a hunter’s, cool and visceral.

I recognized suddenly that he was trying to rattle me before the interview began. He was turning up the heat so I’d melt before I had my showing.

‘Still interested?’ he asked lowly, arms crossed over his wide chest.

‘Sure,’ I said simply.

He had no idea who he was up against.


 

Chris

This interview wasn’t going as I expected. I didn’t know what I was expecting, actually, but certainly not this smooth, calculated professional.

She had some novel answers in terms of re-structuring the firm, such as having more internal control over check-depositing in case of embezzlement. That caught my attention.

She also took the time to go over each of our associate’s histories, which she didn’t need to do, but I was impressed that she did. She wasn’t afraid of telling me we were using them all wrong, and basically lectured me about the importance of tapping into their full potential by putting them on cases they were passionate about.

I wasn’t so sure about her assuming attitude, but I had to admit, I could see her ideas working well. But, did she know how to hire?

‘Candidate number one. You have two minutes.’

I watched as she scanned the summary page of a former associate. Jack hired him, and I wanted to see if she would make the same mistake. Her fingers flipped through the crisp white pages, her skin nearly the same shade. I realized I was still standing, and from this vantage point a downblouse view was too available to pass up.

She didn’t have the largest rack in the world, but those B cups were proportional on her long, lean body. Her hair was tied up in a ponytail, and fingernails trimmed short. Everything about her screamed efficient, including those average breasts.

Fingers itchy, I stowed my hands in my pants pockets and forced myself to sit down.

‘Two minutes is up,’ I reminded.

She took another three seconds to finish what she was reading, and that irritated me. Not that taking an extra few seconds was criminal in my book, but the fact that she took them.

I don’t even understand why myself.

‘Well,’ she began, eye contact strong and voice even. ‘He has an amazing track record. All wins.’

I fought the small, conniving smile teasing at the corner of my mouth. ‘Would you hire him?’

‘No, I wouldn’t’ she said confidently, and that irritated me too, how confident she was. ‘He averages just over two cases a year. The man is a cherry-picker.’

Straining a frown, I placed a second set of papers in front of her. ‘Candidate two. Again, two minutes,’ I said, emphasizing that number.

She narrowed her eyes at me for a second, and that piecing look caused a stir in my trousers. She began reviewing, and I shifting in my chair, trying to find a position that gave myself some breathing room downstairs.

Her blouse was sleeveless, allowing me to notice the underlying musculature of her arms. She was no stranger to the gym, and that should have turned me off right there. I liked my women women. I preferred them thick and curvy, with enough weight on them for child-bearing.

Not that Stacey’s child-bearing ability was relevant to this interview.

But I couldn’t shake the image of those long, pale legs in a pair of yoga pants, working out a deep, and in my mind, this was a deep squat.

The soldier in my pants flared to life, hitting the underside of the desk.

‘Chris?’ her rich voice called out. I threw her furrowed brows while continuing to make micro-adjustments downstairs. ‘It’s been two minutes.’

I cleared my throat. ‘Of course – right – so what’s your verdict?’ This candidate was a difficult one to analyze, especially considering Stacey was a woman.

‘Well,’ she began, and I tried to look at her eyes instead of her lips. ‘She’s had several large firms in her portfolio, and her superiors all said great things about her, but she’s taken six years off work. The law world has already moved on. While I’m sure she could start as an intern here to get her feet wet, paying her a full associate’s salary right away would be foolish.’

I ground my teeth together. That’s exactly what I would have done with Sylvia as well. Stacey had a sharp eye and good critical thinking skills, I’ll give her that. ‘Alright, that’s enough candidates,’ I said brusquely.

‘But I see three more right there,’ she replied poignantly, directing her gaze to the stack of folders on my desk.

‘I think that’s enough,’ I muttered. Her eyes were perhaps a little too sharp.

She frowned, and I wondered if in her mind she was blowing this interview.

She wasn’t, but I could think of something else she could.

Collect yourself Chris.

‘Miss Kavanagh, there is a final portion to the interview,’ I said, voice almost a hiss since most candidates I interviewed never even got to this part.

She didn’t reply, simply content with boring into me with those hazel eyes.

‘One of our associates isn’t cutting it, so what I’m going to need you to do is fire him.’

She blinked rapidly. ‘Right now?’

‘As soon as I call him in.’

I expected her to pause and collect her bearings for a few moments at least, but without hesitation, she replied, ‘Sure.’

Slightly astonished by her lack of concern, I forced my attention to the phone, transferring myself to the associate’s room. ‘Tyler, could you come to my office please?’ I asked with underlying command.

Though the associate’s room was on the other side of the floor, Tyler arrived within ten seconds flat, breathy from the run.

I trained them well.

‘Yes, Mr. Brimstone?’ he said, his wary expression adding to the dramatics of it all.

‘Tyler, this is Miss Kavanagh. She is interviewing for Jack’s former position,’ I explained as I motioned a hand towards Stacey.

He threw on a dumb smile. ‘Hi Miss Kavanagh! I look forward to working with you.’

Stacey didn’t even bother with his outstretched hand.

She cleared her throat, and didn’t flinch or stutter even once as she spoke. ‘I apologize that I had to be the one to tell you this Tyler. I’m sure you have a bright future ahead of you, but that future will not be at Brimstone and Associates.’ Her voice was level, and I found her natural authority strangely arousing.

Tyler looked confused. ‘Excuse me? Sorry – I – I don’t understand.’

‘You’re being let go Tyler,’ Stacey clarified. ‘Please pack up your things. You have one hour before security intervenes.’

Tyler looked from Stacey to me, and I simply nodded. Seconds past, and I as reality sunk in, he began breathing heavily, shoulders rising and falling, forehead shiny from sweat. To be honest, I was afraid he was having a stroke, and it looked as though he was going to cry, eyes sheened with wetness. Without warning, he bolted from the room before his tears fell out, leaving Stacey and I alone once more.

‘Well, I think that concludes our interview,’ I said, cutting through the thick tension. ‘Our assistant will be in contact.’

‘Sure,’ she said simply, and that little word was starting to get on my nerves.

Before I could say anything else, she stood and whisked out the door, leaving me staring at those long legs as she walked toward the elevators. And just like that, my annoyance turned to lust.

Fuck, this was confusing.


 

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