10 Years Ago
I wanted to squeeze Charles’ neck until that self satisfied smile twisted into a painful grimace and his eyes bulged with popping red veins full of desperation. I wanted to watch him flounder like a fish out of water in my hands, his mouth gaping, gasping for air while I crushed his windpipe into dust.
Instead, I smiled at him like the snake he thought I was.
I couldn’t believe the deal he was making in order to get the financing for a new venture within his company. But, I had some crazy moral code I seemed to follow and when he hinted at it in the meeting room, I knew I had to discuss it with him and find a way to help the innocent pawn in his game.
“So, the contracts will be finalized by the end of next week?” I asked, pretending eagerness and, ultimately, a lecherousness I’d stayed far away from my entire life. I saw the way my dad was and I wasn’t trying to be anything like the bastard.
“Oh, yes Grant. You have my word that every “I” will be dotted and every “t” crossed.”
The smug look on his face was like nails on a chalkboard but I smiled with ease.
“Perfect.” I stood and held out my hand.
We shook and he led me to the table along the bookshelf to his left.
“Such an occasion calls for the best of the best!” Charles crowed.
He poured two fingers of his best bourbon into two glasses and raised his in a toast after he handed me one.
“To life, love, and happiness.” he toasted.
I nodded in reply and sipped while he did, because that’s what he expected.
A call came in for him and he glanced at me apologetically while he pulled out his cell phone.
“My apologies. I must take this call. I will give you a call as soon as the contracts are ready.” He answered his phone and I was officially dismissed.
I shut his office door behind me and I glanced both was down the marble floored hallway, which was more like a hall you’d find in some far away castle.
Fuck if I could remember which way I’d come from.
I took a bet and went left because in the movies, everyone always went right. The more I thought about it, when they went right, they were always wrong. I hated being wrong.
But, I was wrong.
Yet, oh so, right.
I passed down the hall and came upon a portion of it that looked out over a courtyard through floor to ceiling, black metal framed windows.
I slowed and went to stand closer so that I could get a better view.
The foliage that surrounded the in ground pool was stunning.
But not as stunning as the beauty who stood on the edge of the diving board, staring at the water.
Not even thinking about the consequences of my actions, I found the knob on the French door and tugged it open.
The heat of the afternoon hit me full on as I stepped out onto the cement patio in my three piece suit. I could feel the sweat of that humid July afternoon seeping almost instantly into my shirt. And yet, I couldn’t stop. I had been hypnotized by the bright light that stood before me, and I knew that if I were to get too close, I’d be zapped by the overwhelming electricity that drew me to it.
I knew right then that she was going to be my demise.
It was her.
“You know, you have to actually jump in order to get into the water.” I found myself saying.
She jumped in surprise and wobbled on the diving board, trying to catch her balance. Inevitably, she failed and I started laughing as she came to the surface, sputtering and coughing.
Her hair and the skin on her face glistened with water and she gave me an annoyed look.
“Oh nice. Scare me into falling and then laugh at me. How gentlemanly.”
The sarcasm gave me a chub so quickly I had to stop and think.
Who was this woman?
“It got you into the water, didn’t it?”
She walked up the stairs and out of the pool. Rivulets of water dripped over every curve I wanted to touch with my tongue
Her blue eyes flashed in anger at me as she leaned over to grab the towel on the back of the chaise lounge next to me. She was close enough to touch.
She dabbed her face dry and looked at me from under glistening lashes.
Angel-ice eyes surrounded by a halo of dark water.
I should have known then that I was fucked.
“So, you scare a vulnerable woman and then tell her it was for her benefit…manipulative much?”
The sassy words she said made my heart pound and my cock stir.
“Oh, I just figured you were waiting for the right moment. But from what I’ve learned in life, waiting for the right moment is a waste of time.” I took a step toward her and lowered my voice. “Sometimes you have to take the leap and just take what you want.”
I watched her grab her plump bottom lip between two sets of sexy, perfectly straight teeth. I wanted to see them around my dick. Speaking of the devil, he was having a hard time staying put with the neon bikini that barely covered her luscious body. She was like a fresh fawn in the meadow. Perfect pickings for the hungry, yet patient man before her.
She laughed at me and rolled her eyes, tossing the towel over her shoulder.
“Wow. Do men your age actually think a line like that would work on a seventeen year old?”
My stomach dropped.
What the fuck.
I was ogling and hitting on a fucking seventeen year old girl?! She was practically a child. The roiling in my stomach made me want to puke and I stepped back immediately.
Her laughter grew louder and she tipped her head back to slip on a pair of round sunglasses.
“You men are all the same. You see a woman and automatically think that we need you for anything. Whether it’s advice or some sort of nudge to convince her to do something because it’s what you think is best.” She stepped up closer to me and for fuck’s sake I couldn’t help but glance down at her breasts, which were heaving with the breaths she took during her passionate speech. “We don’t need you. Okay? We are perfectly capable on our own and can live a perfectly happy life without someone thinking he is our end all and be all savior for whatever it is that he finds the urge to save that day. So fuck off, asshole.” And with that she swept past me.
I turned, stunned.
“What is your name?” I called out. She paused as she reached a door I hadn’t noticed earlier.
She looked back at me. Her eyes took in my entire body from head to toe and back up again and, fuck if it didn’t make me want to vomit and take her virginity at the same time.
“Ascot. Amy Ascot.”
From that moment on I knew that I would never, ever, forget her name. And I would do everything in my power to save her from the fate that her father had just signed away on the dotted line.
Three Days Later
I sipped my coffee and stared out at the sun rising over the New York City skyline from my apartment windows. Although, the view could not take my mind from wandering back to the woman who had captured my attention a few days prior.
My hand gripped my coffee mug tightly and I took a deep breath.
As I let it out, I closed my eyes and tried to picture the justice that would prevail as I followed through with the plan. How Amy Ascot’s asshole father would be ruined. How I would rise to the top of the list of the worlds most benevolent men. Well, maybe I wouldn’t quite get that far, but I sure as hell would try to help her, even if no one ever knew about it.
It was a huge mountain I was about to climb and I had no idea that it was a lost cause.
I swiped through the news articles on my phone and my heart sputtered to a stop when I saw her picture. The title of the article read: “Ascot Sends his daughter to boarding school to give her a normal life.”
I scoffed and read on, not believing my eyes.
Apparently, he sent her away to “protect her” from the prying eyes of the media, who were always following Charles Ascot around. He supposedly wanted her to live “as normal a life as possible” during his campaign for the presidency. Apparently, she had agreed that it was best for their entire family and went willingly to the school in an unnamed country abroad to “protect her privacy”, of course. Obviously, it was the “most prestigious” school he could provide for her, it read.
I lowered my phone and my coffee and stared out at the ever brightening sun. I didn’t believe for a moment that she went anywhere willingly, especially after my brief exposure to her personality. Not to mention, I had made a deal only a few ays prior with her father for her hand in marriage in return for the deal of the century that would surely clinch his victory in the election the following year.
Something wasn’t right and I was going to find out what the hell was going on.
A Deal With the Devil Herself
I wandered the streets of Manhattan late at night, looking for somewhere to pass out for a few hours to catch some sleep. It had been almost a month since Father had kicked me out of the house.
I had seen the cover of the tabloids screaming about how I was apparently at some boarding school abroad. I remember scoffing and almost spitting out the warm coffee a poor, homeless man had bought for me a couple of days prior. I think that was the last thing I had ingested.
Afterward, I’d had to fight off his advances while he complained that I owed him for the coffee and it was only fair that I let him fuck me as payment.
Damn. It hadn’t even been that long since I’d been gone until I figured out that the streets of Manhattan were no place for a nubile young woman to be frolicking after dark. And, I wasn’t even frolicking. I was dirty as fuck and just wanted a shower and a warm meal. Who knew what the dirty homeless men were used to, but I found out quickly that I was ripe for the picking among them.
I found myself alone more often than not. I wandered Central Park during the day. Those late summer evenings, I’d try to find empty parts of the park near the pond to try and rinse the sweat out of my clothes from the hot and humid day I’d spent in them.
If I had known that Father would cut off my credit cards, I would have grabbed more clothing that I did.
Fortunately, a couple weeks prior I discovered that a pizza place nearby would always end up throwing away whole pies at the end of the night. If I was early enough, there would be a fresh pizza I could scarf down. Sometimes I could even eat enough and save a few slices for breakfast the following morning. Other nights, a few other local homeless would show up and I’d have to practically fight for my own share.
I hated those nights. I usually lost and was only able to get a slice, if that.
There was this one night, by the grace of whatever higher power existed, that I was alone. I watched Frank himself bring out several fresh pizza’s in cardboard boxes and place them at the top of the dumpster.
My stomach immediately growled so loudly, I though he heard it at first. But he went back inside without a backward glance.
I took a deep breath and hightailed it over to the dumpster to grab the top box.
It was hot out that night. So humid that my clothes clung to any curve on my body they could find. I hadn’t eaten much the past few weeks and it showed.
The smell of the melting cheese, the perfectly cooked crust, and the spicy sweet sauce made me want to cry. Who knew that pizza could smell like life itself.
I open the top of the box and my mouth watered. I didn’t waste any time and grabbed the first slice I could and, true New York style, folded the giant piece in half and scarfed it down as quickly as I could.
I was well into my third slice when I heard a sound behind me.
I turned quickly and eyed the well dressed woman before me. She was lit by the dim security lamp that was perched at the top corner of the dented, metal back door of Frank’s Pizza. Her bleached blond hair and finely manicured nails stood out to me the most. She was dressed impeccably, yet sexily. Her white button down shirt hugged her breasts and was confined into the waistband of her tight black pencil skirt.
She looked how I dreamed I could feel in that moment; clean, fresh, and free.
“Well now. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think that you think you’re a lost cause.”
Her words lanced my pride and I wanted to lash out. So I did.
“Says the cougar staring at her next meal.” I lashed back, shoving another bite into my mouth. I could feel the grease sliding down my chin and wiped at it with the back of my hand while I chewed. Fuck this bitch, I thought.
The woman laughed carelessly and stepped forward. I could see the forehead lines creasing on her forehead as she looked me up and down.
“Oh, honey. You have no idea what you could be, do you? The amazing life you could have instead of eating pizza from a dumpster.”
I shoved another bite into my mouth, begging my stomach not to betray me to my unwelcome intruder.
“I don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about, but I prefer to eat alone so fucking scram.” Another warm bite of pizza engulfed my mouth and I tried to hide the groan of pleasure, but failed. It’s amazing how pleasurable food can be when it’s a limited resource.
The woman actually laughed, if you could call it that. It was more like a cackle, but I didn’t really care, even though I should have been paying more attention. Although, if I knew what kind of life I’d end up having after our conversation, I wasn’t sure if I’d let it happen or fight harder to be on my own and figure it out by myself.
Alas. What’s the point in hoping for things that you could never change? Nothing. Abso-fucking-lutely nothing.
I ended up getting sucked into the life she promised me that night.
“If you didn’t have to eat out of a dumpster again. If you had your own apartment with all of the amenities and food within that you could imagine. If you could have a different outfit every day and a warm bed every night to call your own. What would that be worth to you?”
I chewed slowly as I considered her words.
“What’s the catch?” I tossed back, swallowing my curiosity along with my pizza. I couldn’t let her see that I was interested.
Oh, but I was.
She smirked and came closer. That faint security light illuminated her face. She was much older that I expected. Her forehead lines and crows feet creased as she smiled wickedly.
“Oh, not much. If you come with me, I’ll tell you. And you’ll be taken care of. At least, for tonight.” She came closer and reached out her hand. I glanced down at the snake tattoo that started at the tip of her ring finger, spread out over her hand and then trailed off over her forearm where I lost sight of it under her blouse.
“And if I don’t?”
I should have shivered with the foreboding her words cast upon me.
“If you don’t? Well, that’s your choice. But it’s the wrong one.”
I sucked in a deep breath and looked down at the hand of the snake.
Anything was better than barely living on the streets within New York City’s three hundred square miles, right?
I swallowed my last bite of that delicious slice of pizza and took the hand before me in agreement.
I just wanted a bed to sleep in that night. I was tired of the park benches I’d get chased out of by insane, handsy old men.
Looking back, I wasn’t sure that I would have followed her out of that alley if I knew I was making a deal with the devil herself.