Chapter 2 – Alyssa
I am so embarrassed when my boyfriend takes me aside and holds me accountable for a mishap I made last week.
I own up to it. I didn’t do it on purpose, but I fucking own up to it. This was Thursday afternoon, right? It must have been when he made me go to the doctor’s and get tested for STDs out of the blue. I was so angry, so irate that by the time I started my actual job I was liable to subconsciously sabotage some of Julian’s work. If only I remembered actually doing it!
Fuck. Poor Vern. I’m informed that he’ll be keeping an even closer eye on what I do around the office. Why do I have to embarrass myself like this? I have nothing against Vern, and I could have gotten him fired if I had signed his name instead of mine on that email. Vern’s married and trying to start a family with his wife. What kind of monster would I be if I let him lose his job?
The men meeting with him today are both too gorgeous and rich for me to deal with. Honestly, when I Googled Mr. Monroe, I got a photo of his indisposed father and assumed I would be seeing an over-sixty-years-old man sitting at the table. I was not expecting a thirty-something heartthrob with the most manicured facial hair I have seen in my life. Seriously, he puts Julian to shame in the beard department. And those eyes! Holy shit! Julian, if you’re reading this, you can seriously learn a thing or two about loaded gazes. We’ll start by implanting your steely blue eyes with those topazy ambers Mr. Monroe has. I could feel him boring a hole right in my gut when he looked at me!
Mr. Cole and his wife are ridiculously good looking, too. He has a youthful energy to him that is at complete odds with his deadpan humor, and she’s so bubbly with curly black hair and a chic sense of style that I felt like a total mouse next to them. I actually thought she was his business partner at first – then I remembered that Mr. Monroe is the one who is business partners with his wife – before learning that she often accompanies her husband on trips to be his personal assistant because that’s how they met. She used to work for him, like I work for Mr. Marcus now.
I’m so overwhelmed, both by these people and what I accidentally did, that I can barely function during the meeting. It doesn’t help that Julian is my boyfriend, and every time I look at him, my breath is stolen from my body as I reflect on what we’ve been doing these past two weeks.
At first, I thought our relationship would be entirely a façade. Now I realize that he actually wants more from me… and I want more from him.
He’s awakened something within me. It’s not just discovering real sex for the first time. When we’re together – as we have been every day since Saturday – I am naturally inclined to give over to him, to give myself to him, and to beg for whatever he deems fit for me that day. He calls all the shots. He tells me what to do, what to wear in the bedroom, and how I should do everything. I’m completely submissive to him as soon as we’re behind closed doors. Julian could take me into the adjacent room right now and tell me to suck his cock and I wouldn’t be able to get down on my knees quickly enough.
I think… we’re in some sort of Dom/sub relationship, and I have no idea what to think!
I tell myself to simply enjoy the ride. Julian is the experienced one here. There’s so much that I can learn from him.
Assuming our relationship outlives my gaffes. Julian doesn’t say anything outside of our short meeting afterward, but I know he’s pissed. I don’t blame him. Mr. Cole and Mr. Monroe were not supposed to have run into each other today. I’ve read up enough on the both of them to understand why. I’m so stupid. How could I have let this happen? Even though I was angry at Julian at the time, my professionalism should have stepped between us!
At five, Julian calls me into his office for nothing but work. And a little pleasure, I suppose. “No plans tonight, right?”
“No, sir.” We’re in private, but if there’s anything I’ve learned about myself these past few days, it’s that I like having him treat me like this even when we’re in private. It fucking turns me on, and I don’t feel the least bit bad about it. “Do you want me to come by your place again tonight?” Don’t know why I wouldn’t! I don’t need a break from him yet! I’m ready to keep having sex and exploring whatever he has to teach me!
“Good. You’re coming with me to the after-party with Cole and Monroe. I promised them food and drink on my dime to help smooth this problem over. What do you think of LaGuardia’s?”
That’s one of the most upscale, exclusive lounges in Portland. The kind of place that’s always packed but never advertised. Even so, Julian could easily get a private room for everyone at the last minute.
“I think it sounds wonderful.”
“Excellent.” He gets up, shuts off his computer monitor, and grabs his jacket. “Then let’s go. My driver is waiting to take us all there.”
Six people pile into Julian’s stretch limo, waiting curbside. It always cracks me up to see his ridiculously nice limo in the middle of downtown Portland, where the blocks are short and everyone points and stares at the smallest whiff of billions of dollars! I’m not even sure Phil Knight drives around in a limo here. But Julian Marcus? He always takes the limo if he feels like it. He even dropped me off at school in it this morning. Gave me so many kisses that people were staring. People who smelled like they hadn’t bathed in weeks, yet had parents who could pay their tuition. Go figure. Welcome to Portland.
LaGuardia’s is exactly what I expected. A small, intimate lounge stocked with the greatest spirits from around the world and enough finger food to fill us up for dinner. Nice finger food, of course. We’re not getting chicken wings and nachos. We’re getting seasoned prawns, oysters, sushi, you name it. There’s even slices of Kobe beef making the rounds once we’re through the door. Julian has arranged for us to have a large table in the back. The place is as packed as I expected – packed with tech giants in both suits and casual wear, and packed with local celebrities who can’t wait to get their photo ops and leave. The staff are more polite than anyone working at Bradley & Marcus, and that’s saying a lot. Even the waitress who takes my drink order is all smiles once she addresses me.
Every man at the table checks out her ass when she walks away.
“Cad,” Jasmine Cole mutters to her husband. They laugh.
“Can’t stop a red-blooded man from doing what men do best,” Mr. Bradley says from the other side of my boyfriend. He’s the only one here without a guest, but he made sure that Mr. Monroe’s beautiful assistant is sitting next to him. I won’t comment on the fact that Mr. Cole and Mr. Monroe are sitting next to one another for the course of our light dinners. For a couple of hardcore rivals, they seem to get along well enough in a social setting. Neither the assistant nor the wife seem bothered by it, either.
Even so, Julian keeps a careful eye on everyone’s attitudes. When someone gets a little grumbly, he orders another round of drinks. When someone looks bored, it’s time for more food. We’re done doing business. This is pure entertainment at this point.
“So, Marcus,” Mr. Monroe says at the other end of the circular table. Another whiskey has been placed in front of him, but nobody aside from perhaps Ms. Oduya is the slightest bit tipsy from the drinks. “What’s this about you and this lovely young woman here? Two weeks ago you were minding your own business. Next thing I see in the society pages are photo ops of you and your new girlfriend.”
Julian genially smiles. “You’re one to talk, Monroe.” He turns to me. “Damon here had a rush wedding last fall. With a woman he only met a few weeks earlier.”
“More like several weeks, thank you. We all can’t wait around a year and a half to marry the women we love.” Mr. Monroe spared that line for Mr. Cole beside him. “Honorable, however.”
“I promised my wife the wedding of the year. Didn’t know you were going to try to upstage me, Monroe.”
Jasmine rolls her eyes in my direction, as if to say, “These men, am I right?”
“Anyway, yes,” Julian continues. “Alyssa and I are together.” He drapes his arm across the back of my chair and rubs my shoulder. I can’t help it – I’m a blushing virgin all over again. “Only a couple of weeks, though.”
“That’s how it starts,” Mr. Monroe says. “Next thing you know, you’re getting hitched at City Hall and having a baby.”
“Congratulations, by the way,” I say, remembering that Mr. Monroe’s wife is about to have their first child. Timeline’s a bit suss, honestly. She was definitely pregnant when they had their wedding in the Czech Republic.
“Thank you.” He raises his glass. “A toast to all of our happiness. Both in business and our personal lives.”
Nobody can turn that down, so we clink our glasses together and down our scotches, martinis, cosmoses, and whiskeys. The scent of Jasmine’s gin and tonic is stronger than my martini. She’s also the first at the table to go full-blown tipsy.
“Babe.” She slams her hand against her husband’s arm. “Be right back. Bathroom.”
She starts a chain reaction. One by one, people get up and mill around the crowded lounge. One of Mr. Cole’s local friends has stopped by after hearing someone is in town. Ms. Oduya sits in a lonely corner and gets some work done. Mr. Bradley occasionally flirts with her before turning attentions to groups of men sitting around tables and waitresses in need of attention, clearly.
Julian gets up and motions for me to walk with him through the crowded lounge. He keeps one arm around me until we reach Mr. Monroe sitting at the bar, complimenting the bartender for the excellent drink. Someone’s getting a nice tip tonight.
“My further apologizes for the mix-up today, Damon,” Julian says. Mr. Monroe gives him his undivided attention, but keeps one eye on the going-abouts of the room. “Alyssa has assured me that it won’t happen again.”
Mr. Monroe gives me a look I’ve yet to see from him tonight. Critical. In one glance, he’s both undressed me and punished me for my gaffe earlier. Now, I know this man owns a BDSM sex club on the east coast but…
What are we mixed up in, exactly?
Julian senses the same look from our guest and tightens his grip on me. Possessive. The kind of possessive that’s been turning me on as of late, but this is different. He’s both protecting me from Mr. Monroe’s critical, domineering gaze and making a statement.
I feel like a sacrificial lamb, honestly. One that is about to get the knife if I don’t bleat loudly enough to rouse some sympathy from the surrounding wolves.
Mr. Monroe catches on fairly quickly. “My off-the-record advice is that you truly make sure it doesn’t happen again, Marcus. I don’t come out all this way for sloppy scheduling. As much as I enjoy giving Cole a good-natured ribbing and staring at his gorgeous wife, I’d much rather have my business associates to myself, if you catch my drift.” He finishes his drink and shoots me another critical gaze. “Although I will say I’m a little jealous. Wish I had as lovely of a lady to punish tonight.” He slips off his stool, taking his empty glass with him toward the bathrooms.
I’m frozen, shocked. Julian clutches me to him so tightly that I can barely breathe.
“Julian… are you…”
“Gonna let him say things like that?” His lips touch my hairline. “Yes, Lyssa. You know why?”
His hand slips down my ass, squeezing until I’m almost knocked off my heels. “Because he’s right. You need to be punished for what happened today. I could’ve been in serious trouble. They both could have pulled out their promises of funding and left Preston and me high and dry. That would’ve been big trouble.”
“I’m so sorry. I swear it will never…”
He gently taps the bottom of my ass.