Auction Ch. 00byO Rang©
She held the notice in her hands, still wet with soapy water from the kitchen sink, and sobbed. The paper, a noisome shade of dill, began to fold, back down over itself like a broken leaf.
Great shuddering sobs wracked her frame as Jen put her head in her hands and let her anguish flow out of her. This was the third time she'd received one of these -- these green notes announcing her insolvency and forecasting the end of her professional career.
For if she could not make the payments on her student loans, then how was she to finish her doctoral thesis?
And if she couldn't finish her doctoral thesis, then her only means of escaping the crushing debt of her student loans would evaporate as well, leaving her in the No-Man's-Land of being All But Dissertation. Her fellow students laughed about this pariah status, conflating it to the cruel acronym 'ABD'. But to folks like her, struggling to write and research fast enough to stay one step ahead of the mounting bills that accrued to those doctoral candidates unlucky enough to be denied university funding was a terrible struggle.
And Jen was most certainly one of those unfortunates; she'd gotten enough teaching jobs to pay some of her bills, but by some misfortune the University hadn't seen fit to fund her any further. This had meant that she was on her own. Sufficient supplemental income hadn't been forthcoming, not even from the temp agencies she'd visited. She simply couldn't study and work ... one or the other, but not both.
Within two months the past due notices had started to flood in. Her trips to the Bursar had proved futile. Nothing, she had decided, was as cold as a bureaucrat backed by policy.
Jen wiped her eyes with one hand, flinching a bit as the soap stung her eyes a bit. Oddly enough, the sting seemed to help a bit, piercing the sorrow that was threatening to engulf her. It was as if the pain helped focus her.
She didn't think much of it at the time.
Jen padded over to her desk, a cluttered affair of photocopied Soviet documents and heavy works by other scholars. Atop it all was the small shoebox she used to organize her growing financial disaster. She began to rummage through the bills, looking for her tattered checkbook, her momentary gust of calm rapidly dissolving into frustration as it eluded her.
The sharp rap on her door made her jump. Her gaze leapt to the door, a sudden pounding in her heart.
No one ever came to visit her apartment; it was a studio, and hadn't seen guests in a long time. Indeed, she hadn't even had a lover in her worn little nest in ages; her bed lay unused in the corner, all tangled sheets and unmet desires.
The rap came again, three quick knocks in succession.
"Just a moment," she called out, suddenly apprehensive.
Who could it be, she wondered as she pulled on a pair of shorts over her panties. There was a large blue stain on her tank top, something from the past week's baking; probably blueberries, but she wasn't sure.
She stepped over piles of books and clothes and leaned over to the peephole. Willing herself not to breathe, she looked out to see her visitor.
Before her, warped by the walleye of the peephole, stood a man and a woman. Both were very well dressed, and looked terribly busy.
"We can see you, you know. Please open the door." The woman's voice had just a hint of mirth in it.
"One second, please," she replied, her mind awhirl until she realized that she'd blocked the sunlight behind her when she'd leaned in to look.
Taking one last attempt to pull her unruly blonde curls into a workable ponytail, she began to undo the latch and chain. Finally, she opened the door a bit and leaned around to look upon her visitors.
He was dressed in a black Armani suit, with a dark red tie that looked almost like blood against his crisp white shirt. She knew at a glance that his shoes cost more than her rent. Fine wire glasses perched on a face that was pleasant, if not especially handsome, framing ice blue eyes that stabbed out at her. The man was blond, and perhaps twenty four years old.
Despite herself, she found him unexpectedly attractive, almost likable, without any real reason.
By contrast, the woman beside him immediately put her on edge.
She was a striking Asian beauty -- Thai, Jen thought to herself. Unlike the man, who looked like he was supposed to be there, the Thai's very presence seemed extraneous, as if she was something the blond man brought with him out of convenience, rather than necessity. Still, the woman looked almost predatory as she stood there, coolly observing Jen's every detail.
What arrangement lay between these two, she wondered?
And why did she dislike this complete stranger so?
The Asian woman was wrapped in a light blue silk blouse that emphasized the fact that she wore no brassiere over her small but decidedly pert breasts; it was cut very low, exposing a great V of her toffee skin. A short black skirt and high, pointed heels made Jen burn with envy at her ability to wear such clothing. Her legs were lean and toned, and long for her frame, clad in stockings whose lace tops were just barely visible.
Jen felt a surge of shame at the way her own full figure couldn't hope to aspire to such willowy contours. Her legs were fairly toned from her long walks to and from class, but this creature before her was obviously the product of hours of training and exercise, and Jen's generous curves owed as much to genetics as they did to her vices.
Expensive jewelry adorned her frame, including, Jen noted, what could only be a platinum choker inset with a large sapphire. Her earlobes sported multiple rings, however, which suggested something darker about her character.
The woman's hair was cropped very short, and feathered forward in a style that was at once very retro and very cutting edge; it reminded Jen of a Chinese actress she'd one seen, but whose name she couldn't recall. Nonetheless, it was the very antithesis of her unruly curved, and only served to reinforce the gulf between the elegant, well-appointed stranger and her, the disheveled, impoverish student.
Her almond-shaped eyes were bright hazel in color, but completely disinterested in tone, in keeping with her look of disdain. This led Jen to the unexpected conclusion that the woman knew the entire outcome of this interchange before it had even begun, as if what was about to happen was something strictly pro forma, a ritual that had to be conducted for its own sake.
The man cleared his throat. "Are you Jennifer McIntyre?" His tone was warm, but businesslike, and yet she found herself relaxing.
"Yes, can I help you?"
"Ms. McIntyre, my name is Mr. Starke; this is my associate Suchin." Only one name, she thought to herself? He smiled at her; at what must have been the expression on her face. "We are representatives of a firm that has taken a, shall we say ... special ... interest in your predicament."
The woman stepped forward, "Please don't waste our time, Ms. McIntyre, we both know you're in debts beyond your abilities." Her voice was high, almost lyrical.
To Jen's surprise, this bold if truthful assertion elicited a sharp glance from Starke at his companion. Sunchin quailed, the affected disdain suddenly gone from her face as she stepped back into her former spot.
If she hadn't had just seen it, she wouldn't have believed it.
What was going on here?
How could one glance completely upend such arrogance?
Starke smiled, "Please excuse my associate. She is new to this, and sometimes speaks when she should listen." Jen nodded, her eyes still on the Asian, whose eyes were now downcast.
"To continue, please," his voice drew her back, the other woman's predicament suddenly forgotten once her eyes met his, "my firm is aware of the nature of your not inconsiderable debts, and we have come to work with you to reach an amicable resolution to your situation."
"I don't understand."
"Ms. McIntyre, we work for a consortium called the Lenox Group. We have business interests and holdings across the globe. Those holdings and interest serve a select client base, and we guard them fiercely."
"Yes, but what does that have to do with me?" She gripped the door a little more tightly.
"Your debts have begun to touch on one of our interests. One of our subsidiary corporations purchased a block of student loan debt from several universities and, in the process of reviewing the files of our newest acquisition, your account was flagged for review and resolution."
"Resolution?" She tried not to let her voice quaver.
He smiled again, this time a genuine smile, one that made her smile.
"No, no, nothing so sinister as what you're obviously thinking. We are not a debt collection agency. Our interest in you is more ... complicated than that."
She breathed a sigh of relief. "Complicated how?"
"We will pay all of your debts, in exchange for your entering into a contract for your services with our firm."
"Excuse me?" It seemed like time had stopped. He'd said something, but it sounded to her like gibberish.
Something about paying her debts?!?
She felt dizzy ... like someone had told her Santa Claus was real.
He gave her a warm smile. "Yes, I usually get that reaction."
Starke took a moment to remove his glasses and run a sham over them. Jen knew he was pausing for dramatic effect, even as her brain cannibalized itself with the unbearable wait. After a torturous thirty seconds, he put his glasses back on and looked at her. "I said, we would like to resolve this situation to our mutual benefit by relieving you of your debts."
"Ah, yes, the 'why' of it. Most of your kind don't ask that question."
My kind, she wondered? What did that mean?
"Well, we run a business venture. So naturally our offer would be in exchange for your entering into a service contract with our firm."
Jen shook her head, conscious of the way her hair bounced; she was in desperate need of a shower. A long morning's preparation for her afternoon class had left her positively rumpled.
"All of my debts?" She said it slowly, deliberately.
He nodded, smiling at her single mindedness.
And she swore she heard a suppressed giggle from Suchin.
"All of them."
"But why?" she asked again, "what do I have to offer your firm that could possibly be of such value? I owe quite a lot of money." She couldn't even bring herself to admit it to her mother, let alone two total strangers.
"We know. One hundred forty two thousand dollars is not a trivial sum, so please do consider our offer." A smug look stole across his face.
Her temper, so rare these days, flared.
How dare he!
If he saw her irritation, Starke gave no notice, as if her offended ego was of no consequence. "Remember, we've purchased your debt."
She held up a hand, confused. "You didn't answer my question. What do I have that is worth one hundred forty thousand dollars?"
He stepped in then, until he stood so close to her she thought he was going to kiss her. She could smell him, a strong, masculine scent, with just a trace of some very expensive cologne.
Jen found herself responding to him, parts of body awakening at his closeness to generate a slow heat that filled her with some very peculiar urges.
It was totally unexpected.
But it was there ... a deep throb within her.
Some connection between them.
Something that made her hunger for him.
She swallowed as his blue eyes met hers, fighting to stay focused.
His icy gaze didn't help, telling her that he'd sooner see her on her knees before him.
Starke's answer, almost a whisper, rocked her to her very core:
She gasped, understanding flooding in.
Suddenly it all made sense ...
"No," she breathed, not wanting to believe.
"Yes," again, the sibilant whisper, "you could be quite valuable to us."
That shocked her. Years of being single, of spending her nights with books instead of a lover had left her ego decidedly muted. To have this inexplicably attractive stranger tell her that she was valuable -- in a purely sexual sense -- was surreal.
And yet ...
Could she be what they so clearly wanted?
Her body ached with the possibility.
To be appreciated as a woman rather than a scholar; to be appreciated only as a woman.
Her good-girl upbringing reasserted itself for a moment. She'd always liked sex, but this was ridiculous.
"But I couldn't possibly ... I mean ... it's ... it's just not done."
"More than you think," this from Suchin, delivered with a wry smile that told Jen in an instant that the Asian beauty belonged to Mr. Starke. Jen tore her gaze from the man before her and looked at the Asian beauty, her mind almost unable to process what was being discussed.
Bright almond eyes met hers with a look that spoke of fulfillment.
Jen's mind burned with images of the slender, haughty woman on her knees servicing Starke ... being taken by him in a public park ... riding him in a bed of crisp white sheets ... the possibilities she conjured up for Suchin seemed endless.
And she found herself wishing that she had such opportunities.
"But ..." she lost her voice.
Starke's hand on her chin was warm, but firm as he turned her head away from Suchin. "Don't look at her. Look at me."
There was power in his voice, and despite the shock of what they were discussing -- despite the fact that this stranger had been standing on her doorstep for less than ten minutes -- Jen found herself thrilling to his commands.
She looked at him, meeting his gaze.
Jen could barely breathe.
"How long," she croaked.
"Three years," he replied, with a tone that made her think that time was too short for his liking. His touch burned as he stepped in even closer, until the front of his suit jacket brushed against her breast.
Her nipples ached as they strained against the rough cotton of her tank top, and she marveled at how wet she suddenly was.
Who was this man?!?
"Don't say no, just yet, Ms. McIntyre. Think it through. There are tremendous benefits to this arrangement. Simply for having this discussion, we've erase twenty thousand dollars of your debt, with a credit card, I believe. Right, Suchin?"
"Yes, sir, with her card through the First Pioneers Bank of San Antonio."
Jen's started; they were that far into her accounts?
"What's more," he continued, reaching out to take her hands in his," the benefits to this arrangement aren't purely financial. We've been informed of your particular, shall we say, appetites, and we're prepared to indulge them as a part of your contract."
"My appetites?" Her mouth was dry, and the words croaked out.
Starke's smile told her that he knew exactly what he was talking about.
"Yes, that singular activity we both know you crave."
Somehow they knew she loved to suck cock.
How, she didn't know. It wasn't something she broadcast.
Did it mean they'd contacted her former lovers?
Had they surveiled her at some point?
Jen's pussy suddenly burned white hot, and she shivered with desire.
Did it matter? Starke seemed to be promising her everything her long denied libido cried out for.
Jen pursed her lips, considering the wonderful possibilities.
"Precisely," Starke said, releasing her hands.
He stepped back, and straightened his coat. She could barely breathe, and stood in the doorway, her chest heaving as she tried to comprehend what she'd just been asked to do.
Starke snapped his fingers, and Suchin stepped forward, reaching into a heavy leather shoulder bag, and withdrew a heavy white envelope. She stepped forward and knelt, and then held the packet out to Jen with both hands out in front of her, her eyes downcast.
Jen looked at the packet, letting a long moment pass. She looked at Starke, who met her gaze calmly, and then looked down at the woman kneeling before her. From this angle, she could see well into the top of Suchin's silk blouse, and unexpectedly found herself hoping for more than a glimpse of the woman's pert breasts.
At last, she shook of her delirium and took the packet. "What am I supposed to do with this?"
As the Thai beauty stood and stepped back behind him, Starke smiled again, "Read it tonight, and then call me tomorrow morning."
A card appeared in his hand as if from nowhere, heavy crimson cardstock graced by the outline of a white crane. She took it and looked at it, noting that its three lines said simply: Starke, Acquisitions, and a phone number for whose area code she didn't recognize.
Would she be someone's plaything? Someone's property?
He turned on his heel and was gone, striding down the hall. Suchin glanced at him quickly, and seeing her moment, tottered over to Jen on her high heels. She leaned in and kissed Jen on the mouth, a soft full kiss that sent an electric shock through her body.
Bright hazel eyes, no longer disinterested in the least, beamed at her.
"Say yes," she said. "You won't regret it."
"Suchin!" Starke's voice rebounded off the walls from around the corner. The Asian beauty smiled and leaned in for another quick kiss. Jen could do nothing, rooted to the floor by the absurdity of it all.
"You won't regret it," she said again, her breath warm on Jen's lips, "I didn't."
Jen said nothing.
Starke called again, his voice flat now with displeasure. Suchin turned and tottered down the hall, and Jen could only watch the glory that was her finely toned body move in decidedly sexual rhythms as she went.
She stood there for a long while, the envelope in her hand, her body aflame with desire, her mind crippled by the sudden chance at salvation offered to her, and the extreme cost to obtain it.
But was it really even a cost?
She'd been questioning her goals already ...
At last she turned, and stepped back into her apartment.
Jen shut the door, and sank onto her bed, and lay there for some time, her thoughts askew as her hands gave release to her passions, moving in time to tease her aching pussy into orgasm after orgasm in a vain attempt to purge the offer from her mind, from her soul.
But she couldn't.
Simple physical release proved no boon, she realized, after some time, as she lay on the bed, naked and sweating from her torments. Her breasts throbbed as never before, and the heady smell of sex that filled her small apartment was false evidence of sexual release.
Jen sat up and tore open the envelope, noting the first class ticket that was clipped to the thick legal document.
She wanted this, she realized.
She wanted this very badly.
The dark, hungry side of her surged to the fore ...
She would have to pack quickly if she was going to make that evening's flight.