I Put a Spell on Youbycarlieplum©
This is my entry into the 2013 Halloween Story Contest. -- Carlie Plum
Brandt carefully drew a diagonal line across the square marked 25 on his October calendar. True, the day wasn't over yet, but he had his messenger bag across his shoulder and he was headed out the door. Chris Tickman, another quant asked, "Another day, another dollar, Brandt? Or are you counting up the number of days you've been Brandt the Quant?"
Brandt the Ant had been an annoying nickname, but his name actually rhymed with ant. Now that annoying little toad in the next cubicle thought it was amusing to mispronounce his name so it would rhyme with the short form of their job title: quantitative analyst. Brandt didn't answer. It was such easy magic, really, just a few whispered words and Chris's tongue would cleave to the roof of his mouth. He could even make it temporary, a few days, max. But those weren't the terms. One year without magic. That was the punishment he had agreed to before coming here. He'd had two warnings for magicking above his level before his sentence was passed down. If he had only learned to suffer fools then as he was doing now. He would have let Ainsley brag about his accomplishments without showing everyone that the blowhard couldn't even keep up with his own level while he, Brandt, could outpace him although he was a good year and a half younger.
Chris stopped teasing him, his eyes studiously on his desk as the sound of footsteps, or more specifically, a very familiar set of footsteps made by long-legged strides and Christian Louboutin heels echoed in the hallway that led the quantitative analysis department. Even three weeks ago, odds were Taylor Gillis would be looking for Brandt--his failure to make the mistakes his fellow quants made frustrated her. With nothing to bully him about, she simply piled twice as much work on Brandt as she did his coworkers, hoping to trip him up with volume. None of her tactics had worked--not in the five months Brandt had been at Dandridge, Samuels, Woodbury, and Gillis Wealth Management Partners. But after what he'd done at last week's partners' meeting, no one had any doubt who she would be looking for.
Taylor didn't even look at him anymore. Just dropped the large stack of files and instructions and stalked off in the other direction before announcing to her waiting boyfriend, some utterly forgettable hedge fund manager who looked like a football player but didn't talk about anything that wasn't covered in the financial pages, that she was ready to go out to dinner.
Brandt snapped his computer screen back on and sent a quick email to Susan that he wouldn't be by that night. She wasn't waiting for him, of course. She had her own life and what they had was merely a convenient friends-with-benefits arrangement that suited them both. Next, he turned to the stack of papers Taylor had left. The worst of it was he could be done with it in an hour, error-free and ready for the full Gillis shake-down treatment, but since it would take the best of the other quants a full three hours to work through the stack, he was stuck here for that long, dragging out the work in between bouts of thinking about home and wondering how he had gotten himself in this mess.
The magicking mess was easy. If Zia hadn't been there, watching Ainsley, enthralled by his claims, Brandt would have kept his mouth shut. He thought he had learned his lesson from the furor that had erupted the first time he had broken the rules about staying within your age group's approved skills, even if your abilities had already progressed beyond them. But when the girl you wanted to marry was looking that way at another guy, well, logic sometimes went out the window. The mess with Taylor was equally simple. In the time since he'd started with the wealth management firm, he'd never seen her be anything but rude, condescending, and demeaning to anyone who wasn't a partner or one of the rich old birds they helped make richer. The receptionist, the quants, the secretaries, the janitor, even the doorman, were either ignored or abused by her razor-sharp tongue, depending which of the two wrong sides of her bed she woke up on that morning. Of all the valuable lessons he had learned from his father, one of those he held closest was that the possession of power obligated one to act with care and concern for those one outranked. And from a woman who offered nothing as far as he could see but the fact that her rich family knew a slew of other rich people who were willing to put their estates in the hands of the firm because she worked there, because they golfed with her father or played tennis with her mother, or belonged to the same asinine clubs or secret societies, well, he only had so much self-control.
His disgust with her had been rising almost since the first day, and it hadn't been helped along by her constant taking credit for other people's work and trashing them when she couldn't. So when she'd unveiled a new trading strategy at weekly team meeting, which she'd made a point of saying she'd developed all on her own, he couldn't keep his mouth shut. Well, actually, he did keep his mouth shut, since he saw the problem on the third page of the Excel spreadsheet being projected onto the wall, but waited until page 16 to say anything. "Excuse me, Ms. Gillis," he'd said ever-so-politely, "I think there is a small mistake in your scenario. On page 3, you listed selling Eagle Industries when it went to $5 a share, but they did a three-for-one reverse stock split last week."
"Well, we only have a small position in Eagle," she'd responded testily. "I'll make the change, but it shouldn't affect the model much." He'd seen a few of the quants look to the side as they bit down on their lips, anticipating what was about to happen. Taylor jumped back to page three, made the change, and started clicking forward through the pages of numbers as the complex financial models underlying them recalibrated. As she clicked through the document, the spreadsheets updated based on the radically different stock value and the position that was larger than Taylor thought, row upon row and column upon column changing from black to red. Not all red, but when she finally stopped clicking on page nine, it looked to be running at least 60 percent losses.
"You fucking prick," she'd hissed at him, "I'll get you for this," before the meeting was abruptly adjourned, and Samuels, who was a pretty okay guy for a partner, hurried him out of the room. She'd made good on her promise though. She couldn't fire him, because she wasn't his boss and even after a few months there his value to the company was more than proven. But for three weeks, she had proven she could make him miserable, piling him high with work most nights at quitting time and saving the most mind-numbing and tedious jobs exclusively for him.
Brandt set another folder in the completed pile, and then contemplated the calendar again. October 31 was just a few days away, maybe, just maybe. . . He knew they kept an eye on him, making sure he didn't use any of his abilities, but with All Hallows Eve coming up, that would be harder to do. Witches, warlocks, magickers, clairvoyants, elves, Little People, people who could speak with the dead and people who were, at least by the definition of his current plane of existence, dead, slipped out of place, into planes like this one where things like those didn't exist except in imitation. In a city like New York on October 31, the energy created by the one small spell that was clearly taking shape in his mind would fall like a raindrop into the ocean, unnoticed by anyone but himself and Taylor Gillis, and for her, when it was all over, it would seem like a foggy, half-forgotten dream. By the time he finished with the last file and returned it to Taylor's office, his plan had taken shape.
Walking back to his apartment, he shook his head ruefully at the Harry Potter marathon being advertised at the movie theater down the block from his apartment. He imagined that there were some schools like that somewhere--Latin spells and eyes of newt and all that bit--but it would only play as a comedy where he was from. Every man--and a few women--had the ability to magic, but no one went to school for it. You went to school to learn reading, writing, and arithmetic, and later to get a degree in whatever profession you planned to pursue. Magicking was just a skill one developed, with age and practice, a matter of learning to focus the mind to use that energy to reprogram reality. No magic wands or fancy cloaks needed.
What Brandt did need was something to hold the magic he would make. The Saturday before Halloween, he stopped into an upscale pawn shop, the sort of place where people who had once had money went to sell their things when the cash ran low. There were cases and cases of jewelry, old wedding rings, pieces glittering with precious stones. He moved slowly down the row until he found exactly what he was looking for. A simple rectangle of platinum, the edges slightly rounded, hung from a platinum chain. It was delicate enough for a woman's neck, but didn't look fragile. Perfect. He paid and took it home before meeting his friend Susan for dinner and a roll in the sheets. As he lay beside her afterwards, sated, feeling happier than he could remember feeling since he came to this place, he thought of how different Monday night with Taylor was going to be.
Taylor found the elegant velvet box next to her keyboard when she came back from a late lunch on the 31st. With a full inbox from just about every quant in the department, plus at least two partners she was pretty sure wanted in her pants, it was impossible to know if it was from someone in the office or a gift her boyfriend Steve had had delivered. The card that read "Trick or Treat" wasn't any clue; it was printed, not handwritten. As she slid her finger across the smooth platinum pendant, she felt a shiver of she didn't know what: energy? electricity? All she knew was that she needed to put it on.
Brandt had been very specific when he had worked with the pendant. It transmitted only two thoughts to the wearer: want and obey, and both of those thoughts would be directed toward him. For Taylor, the experience was confusing, unsettling. Why was she thinking of that arrogant prick who had made her look bad in front of the whole firm. And why was she wet between the legs when she did? By four o'clock, she didn't know what to do with herself. After checking her hair and makeup in the mirror on the back of her office door, she walked down the hall to the offices where the quants had their cubicles. In her black sweater, black skirt, and knee-high stiletto boots, she resembled nothing so much as a black cat, Brandt mused as he watched her approach. A black cat in heat and, thanks to his work, interested in one tomcat only.
"I got your email, Ms. Gillis" he greeted her quietly. This wasn't a conversation for the whole department's ears. "Of course I'd be happy to join you for coffee after work today to discuss the matter."
Taylor felt half-drunk. She hadn't sent any email, didn't want to have coffee with a quant--she had an evening out with her boyfriend already planned--and yet the only word she could hear in her head was the word obey. She looked at Brandt and wanted to do nothing more than to straddle his lap and feel his cock between her legs. "Fine. I'll meet you at five o'clock at the elevator bay."
Brandt turned over file after file, little caring that he was working at least double the speed of anyone around him, perhaps drawing unwanted attention to his "unnatural" abilities. He had never noticed Taylor's beauty before, the ugliness of her personality had blinded him to it until he had seen it uncovered by her animalistic desire. The office emptied, coworkers departing early for Halloween parties and private engagements, until he was left alone in the office.
"There's a coffee shop around the corner that has live jazz in the evenings. I found one of the nights you had me here late, repaying me for your own mistake," he said evenly as he gripped Taylor's elbow and steered her into the elevator. Taylor felt the urge to slap him; no one spoke to her that way. But just as quickly, the urge passed, and she looked at the floor silently. Outside the building, Brandt stalked off toward the coffee shop, his long legs propelling him paces ahead of Taylor, who trailed behind him, walking quickly to keep up. For the second time, he thought of her as a black cat, but knowing that it didn't matter how many times she crossed his path, tonight her luck had run out. They drank their coffees without talking, just letting the music take the place of conversation.
Brandt hailed a cab. "I'll see you home, if that's all right."
"Of course," Taylor answered, wondering how she had ever been able to take her eyes off his face. The jet black hair, olive skin, deep-set eyes so brown they were almost black. Even in her heels, he towered a good five inches over her. They were silent in the cab, Taylor compelled to sit as close to him as she could, her leg touching his. When the cabbie dropped them off, he saw her to the door.
"Have a good night, Taylor," he said as he quickly ran his thumb across the pendant, "I can get the subway from here." His touch triggered something he had added at the last minute, a small subroutine that gave Taylor a window to access her small amount of free will, to let him walk away. If some part of her didn't want him in her bed tonight, she would let him go. He turned, took a few steps down the sidewalk, got just four strides away, before she called him back.
"Would you like to come up for a drink?" The window slammed shut.
Brandt glanced around the apartment, comparing it to the tiny space he inhabited. "Bourbon on the rocks," he said, flicking his hand toward the antique bar. "You know, you have a very big mouth. A very big mouth that you use to bully everyone around you. I think tonight I can find a better use for that mouth." Brandt gestured down to his fly. Taylor's head was spinning. She wanted to throw him out, and yet, she wanted his cock in her mouth, wanted to show him she understood the order his hand had clearly conveyed. She dropped to her knees, and unzipped his fly, reaching into his boxers to uncover his rapidly swelling member. He was going to enjoy this, he thought. He ran his hand through her hair, grabbing a handful to pull it away from her face as she stretched out her tongue and gave him a first lick, then engulfed his head in her mouth, her red lipstick a bright contrast to his pale skin. "That's right, let's keep your mouth full for a while so I don't have to listen to any more of your crap," Brandt told her as he thrust deeply into her. Taylor opened her mouth wide to receive him and moaned, her hand coming up to grip his shaft as she took him full in her mouth. The sensation was overwhelming, her mouth warm and moist around him as she curled her tongue up and pressed it against the underside of his cock. He slid in and out of her mouth, watching her still-red lips work their way down until they reached her fingers, then sliding back to the head, her tongue swirling all around him, across him.
"That's right, just keep sucking. You'll know to stop when I fill your mouth with my cum." Brandt was breathing heavily, every sense attuned to the perfection of this moment. The sight of his tormenter, no longer in charge, on her knees in front of him, the feel of her lips tight around his shaft as she continued to suck him off. Brandt took a sip of bourbon, savoring the smoky taste and smell , the drink both cold from the ice and hot in his throat at the same time. He put the glass down on the bar. Focusing on the sensations that were welling up, a tingle at the base of his spine, his balls tightening up as they prepared to deliver a load of spunk into Taylor's hungry mouth. He grabbed her hair tighter and thrust once, twice, then felt the sweet release of his orgasm. "Swallow it," he ordered.
When she finished, he zipped up his fly and led her out onto the glass-enclosed balcony. "Take off your bra and underthings, but leave your clothes on," he instructed, settling in to a plush armchair to watch her comply. Taylor unzipped her tall leather boots and stepped out of them, then bent over to remove her tights and panties. Her skirt stretched tight against her ass. Brandt felt himself growing hard again. How was it that he had never noticed that ass? "It's a shame that the ugliness of your behavior disguises your physical beauty." The words were like a slap against Taylor's face. She prided herself on her good looks, reveling in the power they gave her over men. Could it be true that Brandt didn't find her attractive? Didn't want her as she wanted him? She hurried to unzip her sweater, the platinum pendant falling against her skin, seeming to give off a small pulse as it made contact. She started to slide her arm out of her sweater, but Brandt corrected her. "I already told you, underwear off, clothes on," his voice mimicking the same mocking tone she so often used at the office.
Taylor unsnapped the front of her bra, her full breasts springing free, the nipples dark pink against her white skin, made all the more pale by the contrast with her black sweater. Wiggling her hand up her sleeve, she was able to draw the strap off her shoulder and pull it back down the sleeve, then repeat the maneuver on the other side before dropping the bra to the floor and zipping her sweater back up. Brandt spread his legs a bit, then patted the chair: "Sit."
Taylor settled back against Brandt, feeling his warmth, his strength. She looked out the windows. In the nearby apartments that were illuminated, she could see a few parties going on, and couples having dinner or watching TV. Brandt reached out his arm and flipped on the lamp next to him, bathing them in a pool of light. Now they were as visible as the people she had been watching. Taylor felt Brandt's hands reach up and unzip her sweater, pushing it open to reveal her breasts again. She started to protest, but Brandt spoke over her, "I don't remember telling you that you could talk." In her head she heard a single word: obey. "Lift your ass," Brandt instructed, as he pulled her skirt up, hiking it up high on her thighs and pushing her legs apart, leaving her exposed to anyone who might glance out one of the many windows of the other apartment buildings. Taylor shivered, thinking of the eyes that could be watching her. What if someone took a picture? She shuddered with worry. Brandt encircled Taylor with his arms. "You want this, don't you?" he asked.
Taylor didn't know what she wanted. Part of her wanted to retreat back into the apartment, but part of her, a pulse somewhere at her center, simply wanted whatever Brandt wanted. At the moment, what Brandt wanted was to lift her breasts, cupping them and running a finger of each hand across her nipples. "Nice work," he commented. "Did you buy them yourself or were they a graduation present from Daddy?" Taylor bit her lip but didn't answer, embarrassed as she never had been that Brandt was right, her father had paid for her implants, calling them an investment in her future when she finished her MBA. Brandt twisted her nipples, pulling them away from her body and drawing a moan from her lips. He dropped his head to kiss her shoulder, then her neck, running his tongue across the platinum chain. The contact jolted Taylor, sending a wave of desire through her body that was like nothing she had ever felt. She lifted her ass off the chair, moaning more deeply and spreading her legs wider, inviting Brandt in.
One warm, firm hand left her breast and trailed down her stomach, then between her legs. "Brazilian . . . of course," Brandt said, in a tone that didn't sound like a compliment. Taylor was confused by his disapproval, but didn't have time to process a question before the hand between her legs had clasped around her mound. As Brandt moved his hand up and down, squeezing her lips firmly together, she felt the most delicious sensation of her own inner lips massaging her clit, touching it from every angle. She held as still as she could, hoping only that he wouldn't stop. He was probing deeper now, a finger running up and down her slit, spreading the juices that were already flowing out of her across her swelling lips. The finger found her clit, sliding up from the underside, knowingly teasing her most sensitive parts. She lifted her legs and put them over his, spreading her cunt obscenely wide. Brandt saw a couple in a window across the way looking at them, moving to the window and flicking off the light to get a better view of the show.