Brand New KeybyJukeboxEMCSA©
Blake had always considered Alice Brown to be at least a little paranoid for installing the bulletproof glass. Sure, he didn't doubt that she probably made good bread as a forger and counterfeiter, but she was low-profile and careful about who she dealt with. Hell, Alice couldn't be high-profile if she tried. She was a mousy, plain little woman with brown hair and brown eyes and a brown dress that looked like she'd bought it from an industrial burlap supplier. Blake wasn't sure if "Brown" was her actual last name, or just a description that stuck.
She even managed to sound brown when she talked. She just droned on in a dull monotone about the technical end of her work, pointing out little details and explaining her techniques and generally boring everyone stupid until they could hand over the cash through the little hatch below the glass, get their goods the same way, and dart off. She was the sort of woman who probably had no life except for her work and maybe a half-dozen cats or so. Who the hell would care enough to kill Alice Brown?
He would, today. He sat in the padded chair opposite Alice and stared through the glass, noticing tiny scratch marks where someone else must have felt exactly like him and feeling the weight of the gun at his side. His fingers itched to pull the gun out of its holster, put a bullet between Alice's eyes and snatch the key from her dead hands and run.
It wasn't even that he didn't want to pay her. Twenty grand to make the key was pocket change compared to what he stood to make. No, Blake just wanted that key and everything it represented. He wanted it more than he'd ever wanted anything in his life. It made his fingers twitch and his breathing quicken at the thought of getting it, and even the thought of not getting it made the sweat trickle down his back, made him willing to pull a double-cross and shoot an unarmed woman. He knew he was being irrational, and that Alice was going to slide the key across to him in a few minutes and let him walk out the door, but that knowledge didn't quiet the irrational fear and the urge to violence that went with it. Maybe that was why Alice had installed that bullet-proof glass. Because she'd dealt with someone before who felt like he did right now.
"An impressive piece," Alice said in that quiet, studious tone of hers, holding the key up to the light and letting it dangle loosely from its chain. "I have to admit, when I first looked at the specifications you gave me, I expected this to be more of a technical challenge than an artistic one; but form definitely follows function in this particular case. Just look at it, Blake. Really look at the way the light catches on the edges. I had to polish that with seven grades of silk to make sure that it precisely matched your demands, but I think it's all worth it for the way it catches the light. Do you see what I mean?"
Blake didn't care about the way the edges caught the light; his eyes were fixed on the key, but he wasn't really seeing it. He was imagining it in his hand as he walked into the Delacourt Building. He was picturing himself reaching out, inserting the key into the lock and watching it slide in perfectly, turning it and feeling that satisfying click as the tumblers fell into place...and then swinging the door wide open, the shivery anticipation of the rows and rows of gems just waiting for him... "Yeah, it's swell," he said, without much enthusiasm. He didn't care what she was saying, really. He'd just keep agreeing with her until she got bored with talking and gave him the key.
"Yes, that fine polish perfectly reflects the light, almost focuses it to a mirror brightness," Alice said. "Each and every sparkle is a sign of a job well done, Blake. It's a sign that the key is everything you want it to be, everything you asked for. Honestly, I could just stare at it and watch it catch the light forever."
Blake definitely couldn't, but he didn't want to antagonize Alice. Not while she still had the key, sitting there tantalizingly out of reach. "I, um...I've got the money," he said, clearing his throat a little. "Right here."
"That's good, Blake," Alice said, still staring at the key. "I know it cost you quite a bit, but I think you and I can agree that this is some of my finest work. The shape of it is so perfect, the detail work on the surface so fine and intricate. The closer you look, Blake, the more impressive it seems, really."
Blake nodded, not really caring about what Alice had to say about impressive detail work. He just wanted the damned key. "Yeah," he said, trying not to give away exactly how much he wanted it. "I'm sure you did great, Alice. You always do." He opened the little hatch set into the wall, and slid the satchel full of money into it. "There you go, twenty grand."
"Of course, Blake," Alice said, her acknowledgment of the money not even causing a momentary twitch of excitement in her droning voice. "Look closely at those teeth, Blake. They're very small, so you'll need to focus your attention completely on them. They're so very tiny--that took real expertise, filing down the metal with such precision. You might need to squint to see them, Blake, but that kind of fine detail is so impressive. You're so happy with it, aren't you, Blake?"
That was it. Any other day, any other job, he'd have humored Alice for a while longer; but today, he couldn't hold it in anymore. Before he even realized he was speaking, he'd already shouted, "Goddamnit, Alice!" Noting the expression of irritation on her face, he took a deep breath. "Sorry," he said. "I'm just, um, a little edgy. Didn't sleep well." Inside, his gut clenched up. She wasn't going to buy it, he told himself. She was going to realize how much this meant to him, up the price, fuck up the bargain...no. She wouldn't. Alice Brown was too dull to double-cross someone. Right?
"Honestly, Blake," she said, twisting the chain slightly in her fingers so that the key gently spun at the end of it, "I'm not really sure I want to part with it. Of course, I'll happily refund your twenty thousand dollars, but...well, just look at it. It's a work of art, not just a work of craft."
Blake felt like he'd swallowed a brick. "We...we had a deal," he stammered out, fear and anger fighting for dominance in his head. "Look, if it's the money, I...I can get more." He was talking too fast, he knew, betraying his nervousness, but the key was too precious to let Alice keep it. She had to know he was desperate now, but she'd never suspect how much money he was willing to part with.
Unless... "Oh, it's not about the money," she said. He heard just the tiniest trace of smug satisfaction in her voice, barely even noticeable if you weren't looking for it. "It's about the pride. Really, I've outdone myself. An absolutely perfect, precise duplicate of the original. I daresay there's not another forger in the world who could do it."
It wasn't fair! The job of the century almost within arm's reach, literally, and now... "You know, don't you?"
"Of course I know," Alice said. She wiggled her fingers a bit for emphasis, the tiny motion sending the key on a swaying dance at the end of its chain. "It might not be particularly well known to the general public, but the Delacourt Company's showpiece is a legend to those of us in the trade who admire precision craftsmanship. As soon as I saw the specifications, I knew exactly what you wanted me to make...and exactly why you wanted me to make it."
The brick that was sitting in Blake's stomach felt like it had grown legs and started jumping up and down as Alice continued to talk. "I admit, I'm very impressed with your deductive skills, Blake. The key--if you'll pardon the pun--to the Delacourt Box and its legendary unpickable lock is the exact and precise nature of its craftsmanship. No key has ever been manufactured to such perfect tolerances, designed to fit so...intimately with its lock. Even the best impression couldn't pass muster, let alone the clumsy tools of a thief. That's the key--again, I'm sorry, I seem to have keys on the brain at the moment--to their guarantee."
Blake gaped at the key in numb, despairing fury. The Delacourt Box, an unguarded safe filled with tens of millions of dollars in jewels, secured only by the finest lock ever made and the personal guarantee of Charles Delacourt. The perfect publicity stunt for a security company for the ultra-rich, a dare to thieves everywhere. And he'd been so close to opening it... "It was very clever of you to realize that a key that perfect couldn't last," Alice continued. "The normal wear of using it, handling it, even carrying it would wear away that perfect surface despite the care taken in manufacturing it. Naturally, there would have to be specifications stored somewhere for the inevitable replacement key, specifications you could copy. Specifications I could use to make a duplicate."
She knew. She knew everything. "Goddamnit!" he shouted again, launching himself to his feet and hammering at the thick glass. It didn't give at all; his hands and fingers would be sore for days, but he was too furious to care now. He grabbed the chair and slammed it up against the glass, but the padding on the chair made it thud dully instead of cracking sharply. He realized suddenly that the padding wasn't for comfort, it was to prevent guys like him from using it as a battering ram. "You bitch!" he screamed as he swung it again anyway. "You cheating, traitorous, fucking, goddamn oh goddamn you!" He pulled out his gun, but a tiny shred of common sense kept him from firing it at a bullet-proof surface from less than a foot away.
She stared at him through the whole thing, watching as his rage finally subsided back down into numb despair. "Finished?" she said at last. "Good. Then let's talk about this."
He righted the chair and sat down, quietly seething. He'd have killed her if he could, but her paranoid precautions suddenly seemed all too sensible. "...what do you want?" he asked in a small voice. He still held out some tiny hope. Even a share of tens of millions was still millions.
She gazed back at the key for a long moment, the key that represented everything he'd ever wanted. More than ever, now, his eyes were drawn to it and the hope it represented. "For starters," she said, her voice somehow still not losing that dull, droning quality, "you can take off your pants."
"What?" he said, completely shocked. He'd never even thought of Alice as having an interest in sex, and now... "You gotta be kidding me!" he blurted out. He'd expected a demand for money, even a complete double-cross, but not having to become Alice's gigolo.
"Careful, Blake," Alice said calmly. "I think we both know that you want to keep me happy at this point, don't we?"
He gritted his teeth and tried to swallow his anger as he stood up and pulled his pants off. "Yes," he said, forcing himself to sound composed and humble. "We do."
"Underwear too," Alice said, reaching under the counter to press a button. "Don't worry about anyone walking in on us, I've locked the door."
Blake wasn't worried about anything but getting that key, now. He pulled off his underwear. "So what--" he started to snarl, then stopped. "So what now?" he asked a bit more politely.
"Go ahead and sit back down," Alice said. "I want you to be quite comfortable." He did as he was told, knowing that Alice held all the cards here. "Now, I think we should negotiate a bit. Decide exactly what our terms are going to be here." She paused for a moment. "I'd like you to stroke your cock while we talk."
Blake sputtered incoherently for a moment, trying to find some way to articulate his furious embarrassment; but thoughts of glittering gems pushed down his pride. He spat in his hand and began to work it up and down the shaft of his flaccid penis.
"That's better," Alice said. "A little slower, thank you. I want to see you stroking it, not cumming. And at this point, you know that pleasing me is the most important thing. If you don't please me, you'll never get this shiny little bauble I'm holding in my hand, dangling from the end of my fingertips and gleaming, spinning, swaying as it catches the light. And if you don't get that key, you'll never get that fortune in gemstones, all the money you've ever wanted just waiting there for you. So you can see how everything you want depends on pleasing me, can't you?"
"Yes," Blake said stiffly. And speaking of stiffly, his cock had started to perk up a bit despite the distinctly unsexy nature of the situation. It couldn't be helped, really. There were just too many nerves down there not to get an erection when you were yanking away on the goddamned thing. He wondered if this was how Alice got her jollies, but he was too smart to ask right now. Let her make her deals, give him the key. Then he could screw her over and leave her to fuck herself instead.
"Yes," Alice said, the tiny smirk on her face the only sign of her enjoyment. Her voice was just as calm and composed as ever as she continued, "All those gems, just waiting for you once you get this key, shining and sparkling like the key shines...and sparkles...I tried to direct your attention to that spinning, sparkling light before, Blake, but I could tell I wasn't getting your full attention. I have your full attention now, don't I?"
"Yes," Blake said. Keep agreeing with her, he told himself, keep humoring her. Remember all that money, all those glittering gems...
"Very good, Blake," she replied. "I know you want this key, Blake, and you know you want it too. And I know you'll get it if you make me happy, if you please me, and you know that's true too. And so I know that you want to please me, Blake, and looking at the key as it sways and dangles and spins reminds you that you know that too. Isn't that right, Blake?"
Blake furrowed his brow in confusion. When the hell was she going to cut the crap and tell him what she wanted? She was just sitting there, droning away about how important the key was when he knew that already, letting him pound his pud and never getting to the point--
"Isn't that right, Blake?" she said again, a bit more deliberately.
He blinked, trying to remember which dull question he was agreeing with. "Oh, um...yeah, sure," he said at last. It didn't matter, really. Whatever she asked, he'd have to say yes.
"That's right, Blake," she said. "It's very important to remember what it is you really want. But it's so hard to remember, there are so many things. Do you want the key, Blake?" Before he could even respond, she kept pressing, her monotonous voice boring into his head. "Do you want the gems, Blake? Do you want to cum, Blake? Do you want to please me, Blake? Do you want to remember what you want? It's so hard to decide, and the sparkling, shining, swaying light is so distracting. The feel of your cock under your fingers is so distracting. Even these questions are distracting, until you can't remember what you wanted to remember anymore than you remember what you wanted."
Blake felt his eyes watering, and he blinked them shut for a long moment. He hadn't followed a lot of that, but it wasn't important; it wasn't the deal. He just needed to let everything else go by, wait for a deal so that he could...could...
But before he could remember what it was he was making a deal about, Alice steamrollered over his train of thought with her endless monologue. "And because it's so confusing...and so complicated...and it's making you so tired just trying to think about it as you stare at the key, swaying and holding your eyes with the dazzling lights until you can't look away...I'll simplify it all for you, Blake. I'll make it all so easy. You want that, too, don't you?"
Blake tried to sort out the new thing he wanted from all the other things he wanted, but every time he tried to work it out, the light gleamed off the key straight into his eyes and he lost his train of thought. "I, um...yes," he said at last, deciding that it was simply easier to agree with her.
"Of course I'm right," Alice responded with a smile. Blake wasn't quite sure that response matched his answer, but he was too tired and confused and she wouldn't stop talking... "It's all very simple, and everything makes so much sense once I explain it to you. Getting the key depends on pleasing me, Blake. Doesn't it?"
"I...yes..." he said absently, the tiny surges of pleasure in his cock now as much of a distraction as the tiny flashes of light.
"And getting the gems depends on getting the key...and getting the key depends on pleasing me..." Alice slowly raised her arm as she spoke, forcing Blake to look up a little as he followed the motion of the key with his eyes. "Then that must mean that getting the gems depends on pleasing me, too. Doesn't it?"
A tiny part of Blake began to stir, then, trying to warn him that she was getting him horny to keep him off-guard so he'd agree to something stupid, that he needed to stop stroking, to look away, to...to...the rest of his train of thought fell away into a rush of helplessness as he realized that he couldn't steal or beg or borrow or bribe or threaten his way to the key. He could either give in and please Alice, or he could walk away without the key. Without the gems. Without the fortune.
He wasn't sure whether it was Alice's words or his own greed that broke his will, then. "And of course, Blake, you know that you'll only be allowed to cum when you please me. So all those other things you want, everything you want depends on pleasing me. So the most important thing...the only important thing...is to please me, isn't it, Blake?"
"Yesss..." he gasped out, his eyelids fluttering as he felt the pleasure build, held back by the hazy knowledge that he needed to wait to make sure that Alice was pleased with him before he could let himself cum.
"Very good, Blake," she whispered. He could see her smile widen out of the corner of his eye as he stared up at the key. "All those other things, now, they're just fading away, because the only important thing is pleasing me. The only important thing is pleasing me. The only important thing..." Blake felt a surge of dizziness as he lost track of the repetitions.
"...is pleasing you," he chimed in eventually, not sure exactly when he'd started repeating it, but not really caring anymore. It didn't matter next to the importance of pleasing Alice.
And he could tell from the sound of her voice that he had pleased her. "Very, very good. Now, when you cum for me, that's going to lock all that knowledge in, and you're going to know that the only important thing is to listen to me and please me in all things. And that I will reward my pleasure with more pleasure for you. Do you understand, Blake?"
"Yes," he husked out distantly, his mind whirling with a confused blur of glittering gems and shining keys and aching need, all melting into a single desire to obey. Obedience would give him everything, everything he'd ever wanted, he just needed to...to...
"Say 'Yes, Mistress', Blake, and then cum for me," Alice said urgently, her droning tones replaced by sharp command.
"Yes, Mistress," Blake moaned out, and he felt his cock stiffen and tighten and throb, and somehow it seemed to feel better than any other time he'd ever jacked off, better even than sex, better than anything, like sex and theft and wealth and power all rolled into one glorious, endless orgasm and he couldn't separate it from Alice's commands anymore, Alice's commands felt like pleasure, Alice's commands were pleasure and he came and came and came...
His eyes fell all the way closed as he shot his load all over his pumping fist.
"Good boy," Alice said, her voice echoing in his empty mind. "Now, listen to me very closely..."
A few minutes later, and Blake walked out of the small, unremarkable building Alice called home. He carried the key with him, but Alice knew he'd be back soon enough. And he wouldn't be complaining about his share of the gems, either.