I’m leaning on the hood of Elliot’s car when Elena opens her front door. I watch her, my face impassive as her expression turns from fury to wariness.
“What the fuck is going on? You know you can’t come here unless I tell you to. It seems I’ll have to punish you. Again!”
Her eyes light up at the prospect but she frowns as I smile coolly at her.
“No. The rules have changed, Elena. I’m not going to sub for you anymore.”
There’s a sharp intake of breath, then stalks towards me, her shoulders back, her head slightly forward like a bird of prey – her Domme stance. Her eyes narrow and I see her arm swoop up to hit me. I block the blow and grab her wrist, forcing both her hands behind her back. I’m pleased to see how shocked she is and I find I like the control it gives me. I really fucking like it.
“No, Elena. You don’t fucking get to beat the shit out of me again. I’m finished with that.”
“But… but you have needs, Christian,” she says. “I’m the only one who knows what you’re really like. You need me, don’t you, Christian? You need what I can give you. I know every inch of your body – I know how to make you respond. Always.”
Her expression almost makes me want to laugh. Is she begging?!
“True. And you’ve been a great… teacher. But not anymore, Elena. I’m finished with all of that.”
“You came all this way just to tell me that, to make your big announcement?” she sneers.
“No, not really.”
“I’ve got a project I want to start, here in Seattle.”
“Project? What are you talking about? What about Harvard?”
“What?! Why?” She frowns.
“I’ve had enough. I want to get on with my life.”
I shrug. She doesn’t need to know the details.
A slow smile creeps across her face.
“Well, I can’t say I’m surprised. Or maybe just surprised that it came this soon; I thought Grace had you pussy-whipped into getting your nice Ivy-league degree.”
“Don’t you fucking talk about her like that!”
Now I’m really fucking furious. I see the enjoyment in her cool blue eyes. She wants me mad; she wants me losing control. My hands automatically tighten on hers and I see a tremor run through her body. I don’t want to scare her… or maybe I do. Fuck. This is confusing.
I let her go and she’s fucking laughing at me.
“Oh, yes! A ‘project’ here in Seattle!” She makes quotation marks in the air. “Master of the fucking Universe, aren’t you, Christian!”
“Not yet,” I answer evenly. “But at least I won’t be fucking a housewife who’s so terminally bored she has to seduce 15 year old boys to get her kicks.”
She’s so fucking mad, she looks like she’s about to have a stroke. Oh, yeah. Suck it up, baby.
“And I think I’ll find myself a nice little sub, for weekends.”
“You think you can be a Dom, Christian?” she whispers, fury etched into every word. “You wouldn’t know where to start! But I can help you with that.”
“What are you talking about?”
“I’ll do it.”
“Sub for you.”
My mouth drops open in amazement.
She takes a step towards me and rests her hands on my arms.
“I want you to hurt me, Christian. I want you to punish me… hard.”
My mouth is still open and she drops her hands slowly, running them over her breasts, the tops of her thighs, rubbing herself.
And I’m so fucking turned on I can barely stop myself from leaping on her there and then in front of her house.
Suddenly she steps away from me.
“Linc will be home soon. You have to go. Sort out a place in the city and I’ll come see you and we can start your new training.”
She’s dismissing me. This is not how I expected this conversation to go and for a moment I’m lost.
“By the way,” she says, distracted by a sudden thought. “How are you going to fund this project exactly, start off by yourself?”
It’s really none of her business but I’m so used to telling Elena everything that I can’t help myself. “I’ve got some money saved… I’ll start with that.”
Her eyes narrow and she regards me speculatively.
“What if you had a lot of money?”
“I intend to.”
She laughs naturally. “I’m sure you do, but what if you had a stake of, say, $100,000 to start you off?”
I gape at her.
“You want to… sub… me, with Linc’s money?!”
Her smile grows broader and I laugh incredulously.
“Call me when you’re ready, Christian. I’ll have the bank transfer the money to you in the morning.”
She turns and walks back into her house – and I’ve got the biggest fucking grin on my face.
I drive back to Elliot’s in a daze. I still can’t quite believe what happened at Elena’s. That was an off-the-fucking-chart reaction. I don’t doubt for a moment that she’s serious. Elena has never lied to me. It’s one of the things that make her special; I trust her.
By the time I’m back at the apartment I’ve got the details of a plan. I’ve known for a while the sort of company I’m interested in: and a couple of days ago I found it. A small, locally-based comms company. Their ROI is pitifully small so they’re failing; they’ll be history in six months unless someone – ie. me – can turn it around. They’ve got good research and development, and a great product, but their sales are woeful. That tells me two things: either the management don’t know they’ve got a good product; or they don’t know their asses from a hole in the ground.
I’ll need about $175k to buy a controlling interest. Now Elena is going to loan me the first $100k, it should be much easier securing a bank loan for the rest. This is going to be the tricky bit. I’ve got a great business case and can prove profitable future P&L, but the banks will take one look at my age and (lack of) track record and throw me out on my ear. Unless I can convince them that their money will be safe. Which means most of the major banks are out, because they’re too hidebound by their own red tape to move quickly and take the kind of risk they’ll see in me. But there is one smaller bank that has a track record of taking informed chances. I have to admit that my hopes are pinned on them. That’s Plan A. Plan B is to rob the fucker.
I’m feeling pretty tired after my long flight and the god-awful fight with my parents, but when I open the door to Elliot’s place, I know there will be little chance of getting any sleep. A woman, probably the blonde from the bar, is in the very noisy throes of passion. Elliot’s not much quieter. Shit. He’ll be up all night if I know him, which I do. I have to say, listening to Elliot’s love life at such close quarters does absolutely nothing for me.
In the end I decide to go for a run. Maybe if I can run myself to a standstill I’ll be too fucking exhausted to care how noisy Elliot and Ms Blonde are.
After two hours of pounding Seattle’s streets I finally head back to the apartment. It’s quiet. Thank fuck. I strip off my sweaty kit and head for the shower. My body is aching with weariness but my brain is still racing on all cylinders. I hope a shower will help me relax, although the odds aren’t good.
The shower is lukewarm so I don’t linger as long as I’d have liked. I grab one of Elliot’s towels and wind it around my waist. I’m relieved that his housekeeper keeps everything so fresh and clean – not Elliot’s usual style at all. I’m feeling slightly more chilled so there’s a chance of sleeping, but when I stroll back out to the living area, I’m stopped in my tracks. The Blonde is standing there staring at me, her expression leaving no doubt as to her thoughts, even if it weren’t for the fact that she’s fucking naked.
“Mmm!” she says, still staring. “Brothers! That’s hot! But I’m afraid your brother doesn’t seem to have much stamina. I was wondering if you have that in common, but you look… very fit.”
She walks towards me and for a second I’m frozen to the spot. But when she reaches out to touch me I automatically take a step back.
“Don’t touch me,” I say, the warning obvious in my voice.
“Don’t be shy, little brother,” she says. “Elliot said you’re shy around women. I can help you with that.”
“Let’s play,” she says as she cups her breasts with her hands. “You can touch them if you like.”
She takes another step towards me.
“What part of ‘no’ don’t you fucking understand: the ‘n’ or the ‘o’?”
I stare at her stonily and her confidence withers.
“Oh, well fuck you, Mr Charming,” she says, angry now. “I suppose Elliot was right when he said you were probably gay. There’s no need to be so fucking unpleasant.”
And with that she withdraws to the bedroom. Thank fuck.
I don’t manage to sleep for more than a couple of hours so I’m awake early the next morning. Too early after yesterday, but the dawn chorus of my priapic brother and his new inamorata are hard to ignore. I dress quickly in my dark suit and white shirt. They’re not too wrinkled from being in my case. I hunt around for a tie and finally find a silver grey one that Mia gave me for my last birthday. She said she bought it because it matched my eyes. My little sister can be really sweet sometimes; at other times she can be a proverbial pain in the ass.
My phone beeps and a text from Elena appears on the screen.
* Money in your account. You owe me. *
I go online to check, not really doubting that the money is there. But seeing all that cash in my account is a fucking buzz.
Next I book a meeting with the new business manager at the other bank. The earliest appointment I can get is 9.45am so I’ve got some time to kill. I rummage around in Elliot’s fridge and find some fruit and yoghurt. I’m too wired to bother to cook but I’m still hungry so I toast about half a loaf of bread while I flick through the Financial Times online. The price of gold and agricultural land is soaring, but there’s no news that will affect my interests at present.
Finally, about 8am, Elliot wanders out of his room looking thoroughly fucking pleased with himself, or just thoroughly fucked. It’s usually means the same thing with him.
“Wow! You missed the chance of a great lay last night, little bro. So what did you do? Color coordinate your shirts? Oh, I forgot – you only wear white. Did you help yourself to food – I’ve got plenty.”
“Good morning, Elliot, I slept pitifully thanks to you. But yeah, I found some food, thanks.”
He smirks at me.
“So Julie wasn’t your type then?”
I don’t bother to reply.
“What is your type?”
“None of your fucking business, Elliot.”
“Chill bro, just asking. In case you need any help in that department, the Love Doctor is open all hours.”
It’s hard to stay mad at Elliot, but sometimes he’s such a juvenile, even though he’s older than me.
“Where is the aforementioned Julie?”
“Sleeping off a rough night,” he says, raising an eyebrow.
I really wish I hadn’t asked.
I decide to head out, even though it’s too early for the bank. I could use a quiet coffee and, frankly, I just can’t face sitting in Elliot’s apartment attempting to make small talk with the Blonde. I’m going to have to sort out my own place: living with Elliot just isn’t going to work out.
I buy the local paper and look through the apartments to rent pages whilst I drink a scalding Americano with skim milk. The waitress is irritating, hovering over me offering refills. What’s the matter with her? Why can’t she leave me the fuck alone and go bother some other customer. Eventually I glare at her and she backs off.
I get to the bank a couple of minutes early. The new business manager sends out his assistant to usher me in. From the way her jaw hits the floor when she sees me, I’m guessing I’m quite a bit younger than she was expecting.
Get in the game, Grey. You can do this.
I take a deep breath and follow her into a side office.
A man of about fifty with thinning hair and acute, blue eyes stands up to shake my hand. I can see he’s taken aback, as is his gormless assistant, but he covers it well.
“Mr Grey, please take a seat. How can I help you this morning?”
I run through my plan, my capital needs, my assets and immediate strategy. He asks sharp, incisive questions that I answer easily. I can see he’s impressed, but will that be enough? I fucking need his bank’s money to make this work. I hate this feeling of being at the mercy of events beyond my control.
“Well, Mr Grey, that’s a very interesting proposition. Very interesting. The return on investment looks strong and I can see that you’ve put a lot of thought into this. My concerns, however, are two-fold: your lack of business experience; and your lack of track record. This puts you in a high-risk category for our bank.”
“I’m aware of that, Mr Wilson, but I have demonstrated thoroughly that the risk, in fact, is negligible. The potential profits, however, are not.”
I see him fight back a small smile.
“Well, Mr Grey, if anyone can pull this off, I’d say that you can. I’ll have the paperwork prepared – if you could return this afternoon to sign, I’d say you’re in business.”
“Thank you, Mr Wilson. A wise investment.”
And I’m so fucking happy as I walk out of that bank. I can’t remember feeling like this since… well, not ever. Stage One complete. Stage Two is buy me a fucking company.