Friday night. Gail has left for the weekend. The staff quarters are so empty without her. Shit, I miss her laugh. I wander off into the CCTV room, now my office, and await the arrival of Miss Leila Williams.
I’m curious as to how this all works – the whole submissive thing. Is it just in the playroom or is this like 24/7 roleplay? Just before 8pm the garage alert tells me that someone has keyed in Grey’s entry code. I scroll the cameras and watch the blue Audi that I arranged to be delivered to Miss W park in bay 5. She looks nervous as she exits the car. Fuck! Who wouldn’t be?
I knew guys in the service who were fanatical hole-chasers but I can’t say paying for it ever did anything for me. I mean, you’ve gotta try it to know you don’t like it, right? But frankly paying for a fuck? It seems kind of desperate.
On my way to meet her in the foyer I stop at Grey’s office. He’s staring at spreadsheets again but I can tell by the tension in his shoulders that he’s fully aware of the time and what I’m about to tell him.
“Sir. Miss Williams is on her way up.”
“Show her into the lounge, Taylor. I won’t need you again this evening.” I should fucking hope not.
When the doors open, she steps out looking anxiously around her.
“Miss Williams. This way ma’am.”
“Oh, hello again. Taylor, isn’t?” She smiles but looks a little worried.
“Yes, ma’am. If you’ll follow me. Mr Grey asked you to wait in the lounge.”
“Wow! This place is amazing.”
She stares at the art on the walls and seems overwhelmed. I feel a little sorry for her. But she made her bed, so to speak.
“Oh, does he play the piano?”
I don’t want to talk about the boss, so I just point to the white, leather settee and tell her to make herself comfortable. Is that possible? I feel so fucking awkward I just want out of there.
I leave her, marooned in the huge room and go back to my office. Just cool it, Taylor. It’s not like the first time you’ve escorted whores.
No, it’s not. I don’t care about the whole fucking-for-money thing; not really. That’s not what chills me. It’s knowing – or, rather, guessing – what goes with it for Grey: chains, whips, canes, belts.
Despite my tiredness, I don’t sleep well. About 2am I hear the playroom door slam and shortly after that, the boss starts on the piano. The music flows around the vast, soulless apartment; something unfamiliar in a minor key. It’s not happy music: the boss rarely plays happy music. It’s troubling and I dream uneasily for a few more hours.
When I wake, just before my alarm, there’s no uncertainty: I know exactly where I am. The bed feels very empty. Not that I’ve slept in it the last two nights, but I feel Gail’s absence all the more. It’s not a good idea to feel like this. After the Bitch I told myself I wouldn’t make myself so vulnerable again. I think Gail’s different, but how well do I really know her. Christ, this place makes me crazy, I can’t think clearly.
I arrive in the foyer at the same time as Grey. I know he can’t have slept more than three or four hours but he doesn’t show it, except maybe a little around the eyes. He’d have made a helluva Marine – if he wasn’t so fucking crazy.
When we get back from our daily run, the new woman is in the main kitchen. I can’t help noticing she’s walking a little stiffly. I have to swallow back the bile that rises but when she sees the boss this huge, fucking, beaming smile crosses her face. I know he sees it but he just says,
“I’ll eat breakfast in 10 minutes.”
He smile flicks off like he turned the switch.
The nausea comes back and I just want out of that damn room.
Grey gives me the rest of the day off so I text the Bitch to try and arrange some time with Sophie. But apparently the princess has a play date with one of her new friends from pre-school and fathers are surplus to requirements. Next time she tells me to give more notice. Bitch. She knows that’s impossible with my job. Not that she cares. If I hadn’t pushed so hard when we broke up, I wouldn’t have any kind of relationship with my daughter.
When I did my first tour in Afghan two guys in my units got Dear John letters. Un-fucking-believable. And do you know what one bitch wrote: Things could maybe have worked out if we’d spent more time together, if you’d have been here. What the fuck did she think he was doing? Sitting in the fucking freezing mud of an Afghan winter just for the hell of it? We passed the letter round the platoon so we could all make our feelings known about what kind of whore he’d had a lucky escape from.
The point is, you have to fight for what you want: but you’ve got to have weapons and you’ve got to have opportunity. I don’t know what the boss wants to fight for: he’s got every physical comfort money can buy; he’s rich and successful – and he acts like he’s had his heart and soul surgically removed. But then I think back to the fucking awful nightmares that wake us all on regular occasions and I know that fear is at the bottom of it all. The money doesn’t chase away the horror.
What a fucked up way to live.
And for the next three and a half years I had no reason to change my opinion: until one day in early May.
The boss had been in a foul temper for weeks.
“He needs to get laid.”
Gail pretends to be shocked.
“It’s true. His last sub didn’t last beyond penalty time.”
“I thought Susannah was very sweet.”
I roll my eyes at Gail but I can’t help smiling. “You think they’re all sweet!”
She sighs and I reach up to pull her onto my knee so I can nuzzle her neck.
“Jason! I’m trying to cook here! My hands are all floury!”
She laughs and swats my hands away.
“I like you floury. It’s… homely.”
“Homely! Hmm, I’m not sure I like being ‘homely’. And it’s not what you said last night!”
“True. Last night you were hot, but right now you’re floury, it’s homely. I like it. And I still say the boss needs to get laid. He’d be a much happier guy if he was.”
Gail pushes herself up, leaving white handprints on my shoulders. “Well, I think you’re wrong: sex by itself doesn’t make people happy.”
“Oh, I don’t know; I’m sure there’s a reason I’m such a happy guy.”
“I’m serious! These subs of his: they don’t make him happy, do they? They’re just a distraction – that’s all.”
“Maybe, but I don’t think he’s going to change now, Gail. We’ve known him nearly four years and it’s just same shit, different day.”
Gail frowns. She doesn’t like me swearing: I try and keep it to a minimum when she’s within earshot, but old habits die hard.
“That’s what I mean. He won’t be happy until he changes; I wish he’d realise that.”
“Maybe you should be his head shrink instead of Dr Flynn. Is Dr Jones on call?”
“Very funny, Jason, you should be a comedian. Oh… I forgot – you are.”
She swats me with a tea towel. I’m not taking that from any woman, so I pin her against the sink and give her a damn good kissing so she knows her place. But, as always, she’s the one with the power and I’m helpless in her hands, my body pushing against her, wanting, needing her.
Eventually she pushes away from me.
“You are a bad influence, Jason Taylor!” she snorts, her rapid breathing matching mine.
“Good! And while I’m influencing you, have you thought any more about my offer?”
There’s a long pause but she doesn’t reply.
“Good god, woman! Are you rolling your eyes at me again?”
“Yes!” she snorts.
“Is that ‘yes’ you’re rolling your eyes, or ‘yes’ you’ve thought about my offer, or…” and I can hardly bare to ask, “…or are you saying ‘yes’ you’ll marry me?”
She sighs, and I know the answer is still ‘no’.
“Jason, we’ve been through this and through this. I can’t talk about this now.”
“Because I’m busy and because you have to get your floury ass down to the garage to drive Mr Grey to work!”
She smirks at me. “It is now… I’ve told you before not to interrupt me while I’m cooking!”
I wish she’d say ‘yes’, but I’m not worried. We live together so she can’t get that far away from me. I’ll just have to wear her down with a bit of the ole Taylor charm. My cock reminds me that I like wearing Gail down. I have to rearrange myself before I make my way to the garage and have the Audi ready for the short commute to Grey House.
The boss’s foul mood hasn’t improved. He snarls at me when the music is too loud; he barks when his phone rings for the third time and Barney gets a tongue lashing along with one of his newer execs from the company he just bought. I don’t take it personally: he can’t help it and there’s a big difference between him being a miserable bastard and a bad boss. Besides, he’s one of the most straight up guys I’ve ever worked for. For the first few months I kept expecting to come across a bent business deal; a politician in his pocket; the palms that he’d greased to be as successful as he is – but that just ain’t his way. He’s clever, alright, and he knows how to keep in with the right people, but they’ve learned that if they want to do business with him, it’s his way or the highway. The only exception to this is when he plays golf to give him access to the word on the fairways – the informal information a smart guy can always pick up and use to his advantage. At least that’s the gist of it: it’s kinda hard to work out in between all the swearing.
It’s obvious that golf offers him no physical or intellectual challenge and if it weren’t for his personal trainer Claude Bastille keeping him in the game, I think he’d have wrapped his clubs around the nearest convenient stop light long ago.
This morning he’s got a weights and reps session, followed by kickboxing, which is really his thing. I hope that maybe Bastille’s session will burn off some of the boss’s bad temper. It sometimes works. Sometimes. Part of me, a bigger part than I’ll admit to Gail, wishes he’d find himself another little brunette sub so the rest of us don’t have to walk on fucking eggshells the whole time.
I drop him at the entrance to Grey House and park the Audi in the underground garage. Grey’s execs circle like sharks to get the chance of a parking space but only a few ever get the chance of the perk. With another man I’d say he enjoyed seeing them fight amongst themselves, but that sort of bitch slapping is anathema to Grey. All he cares is that everyone works, and works hard.
When I get to my own office, next to the CCTV room, I pick up the week’s schedule from the boss’s PA, Andrea. Oh fuck. This won’t please him: first thing this afternoon he’s got to do an interview with a student from WSUV – a certain Katherine Kavanagh.
Of course, I checked her out before Grey’s PR team could talk him into seeing her. She’s connected to Kavanagh Media, her old man, and I suspect this is the real reason the boss has agreed to see her. He may not make use of bribes, but he’s not averse to keeping a favour in his back pocket.
I flick through her details again: she’s a real babe but not Grey’s type, although she’d be the ‘type’ of just about every other man on the planet. Not me, of course, and I bet she can’t cook up a storm like a certain Mrs Jones who I’m working on changing her name to Taylor. Yep: I’ll wear her down – she doesn’t stand a chance.
But at 1.45pm, just before Miss Kavanagh is due to interview the boss, I get an alert from Reception. It’s not Kavanagh who’s shown up, but some woman called Anastasia Steele. Security aren’t happy and neither am I: I don’t like surprises – and neither does Grey.
I check her out on the CCTV while I run a quick profile check, accessing the private data from WSUV.
Oh shit. She’s a brunette. Very pretty, slim, with long hair – the kind the boss likes to braid for some reason I really don’t want to know. Not good. Not fucking good at all. But nothing on her college file gives cause for concern. She’s a good student, with a 4.0 GPA and SAT scores in the 2000s. But she’s not on the student paper so I don’t get why she’s here for this interview. On the other hand, she doesn’t seem to be affiliated to any of the more extreme student groups. It’s only when I check her address that I get it: she’s Kavanagh’s roommate. This is probably nothing more than Kavanagh being sick.
I watch her twitching in Reception. The poor kid is as nervous as fuck. She looks so awkward in her badly-fitting skirt and ugly sweater. She twists her hands in her lap then forces herself to sit still. But then she’s biting her lip again and glancing at her wristwatch. She reminds me of Bambi on ice. There’s something vulnerable and almost endearing about her. I hope the boss doesn’t give her too hard a time: she looks like she’d break in two if the boss tosses so much as a harsh word in her direction.
I relax. This girl poses no obvious threat… except maybe to the boss’s peace of mind, but that’s his look out. I let Reception know they can send Miss Steele up.