tagRomanceHidden Chains Ch. 01

Hidden Chains Ch. 01



It was all around her. She could hardly stand it. It pressed close like a cold cocoon that seemed to seep into every pore of her skin. She wanted to scream, but what good would it do? She was alone. More alone than she had ever felt in her life. Her voice was already raw from screaming and counting off lashes that had fallen upon her back as He had demanded. Each raw mark throbbed painfully as she lay against the whipping post, her hands strung up over her head, forcing her body's weight to pull down on her shackled wrists. Hot tears stung her eyes and she bit her bottom lip to keep from simply weeping. It was the initiative step of a slave, He had said. The brutality and the cruelty of it all made her recoil... but at the same time... what would it be to please a Master as He had described? Her delicate nose wrinkled in disdain. She would never serve.

It had all begun about a year ago.

It was just one of those days that everything seemed to go wrong. It was raining and Danielle had to work early. Her car wouldn't start; so she had to walk to work, which naturally made her late. Her hair was a mess from the wind and the wet, her make-up was smeared horribly and she had a run in her stockings. Mud stained her brand new suit from when a truck had driven by and splashed her. And when she walked into the office from the elevator, everyone stared at her. She had thought it was just the state she was in that was the factor, and then she stopped to look down at herself to see what everyone was whispering about. Her jacket had come unbuttoned! And she had no blouse beneath it. She hadn't noticed because she'd been crammed in the back of the elevator with a whole bunch of other publicists and office laborers and all those she bossed around from the top. She hurried and set down her briefcase to tuck her bra back beneath the jacket where it belonged and buttoned it up again, feeling the heat of a blush wash over her face. She hurried into her office and shut the door, leaning back against it to gain her composure. Today was going to be a nightmare, and it was only 8:32am.

Kirk Bailey stepped into her office not long after. Luckily she had stood up and had started to straighten herself out. She was just trying to fix her hair in that tight little bun she always wore it in when the door opened. Kirk looked her up and down like he always had since day one. She had never really cared much for her boss, but he seemed to have the hots for her like any other man she worked with and the wild idea that he would somehow get her into bed with him, according to the rumor mills. Fat chance. There was no way she would sleep with a man like Kirk Bailey. He was the only one keeping her from the top, and he had for two years. He was also the unorganized, flutter-brained sort. If you wanted sports trivia, Kirk was the man to ask. He was more enamored with the actual games on TV and teams and numbers and player facts and statistics than he ever was with what was published in his magazine, even if it was supposed to be sports related. As his Vice President, Danielle was supposed to take care of things and get things done. And she had for two years; all the while steaming about how she could make the publication better and smoother.

"You're late." Kirk said. Then he looked her over again. "You're a mess Danielle. What happened?"

She shot him a stern glare and straightened up to meet his eyes evenly. "Can I help you, Mr. Bailey?"

Kirk just kind of smiled at her and shook his head. Another man walked up behind Kirk. Danielle had never seen him before. Tall, dark, and handsome. There was simply no other description that truly fit him. Yes, it was cliqued but it fit. He was, no doubt, at least a head taller than Kirk, and Danielle had always thought Kirk to be more than tall enough for a corporate executive. His height only seemed to add to this uncanny attraction she could feel welling up in the pit of her stomach. Despite his handsome good looks and dark hair that seemed to beg to be not only touched, but fingers raked through it in a moment of passion, it was his eyes that spoke to her the most; penetrating dark eyes that seemed to pierce through to her very soul. She couldn't put her finger on it, but there was something... at the very least, he was a man of business and used to getting exactly what he wanted. That fact made Danielle, to her chagrin, weak in the knees. This wasn't like her and it was irritating but the more she thought about it she knew, from the first moment she had laid eyes on him, that he was not soon to be forgotten or pushed from the foremost thoughts in her mind. He looked so professional and so... dreamy. Wait. Danielle stiffened. Who was this man and why was he in her office with her boss? And why did it have to be today, of all days?

Kirk glanced over his shoulder at the new man and turned toward her again "Oh, Danielle... this is Coleman Walker from ESPN Magazine. I'm going to introduce him in today's board meeting. He's one of ours now."

Danielle took the time to look Coleman over once more and leaned back against the edge of her desk stiffly with her hands laid on the surface behind her and her ankles delicately crossed. She wore her normal dingy gray professional attire and stilettos. Today it was a simple tailored jacket and a skirt that came to just above her knees. Though her stockings had a run in them, they hugged very shapely legs and disappeared beneath the hem of her skirt. She had dark brown hair that would sweep over her shoulders and back to about her waist if she ever let it. Danielle was a woman of relatively small stature, but she had an aire about her that just made the hair stand up at the back of people's necks. This man seemed unaffected by it.

Coleman stepped forward and offered his hand to her, "Just Cole will do." He said in a sultry, silky baritone voice that could very easily talk most anything he wanted out of anyone if he tried. When Danielle seemed tense and didn't immediately offer greeting in return he spoke again, "I thought people around here were professionals, Kirk. Guess I thought wrong, eh?" Kirk just laughed. Danielle sniffed a bit and stood up to reach for Cole's hand and shook it firmly once before pulling back. She stiffened again and leaned against her desk with her arms crossed over her chest. Coleman chuckled and glanced at the name plate on her desk. "Danielle is it? Danielle Maston, VP of Sports Unlimited... You said she was somebody important when she was stripping in the foyer, Kirk. You didn't tell me she was VP."

Danielle could feel the heat of a blush creep up the length of her neck to cover her face. She wished now more than ever that both men were out of her office. She hated being mocked. She hated blushing worse. She hated showing that a man could affect her like that. After a moment she cleared her throat. "Pleased to meet you, Mr. Walker."

Coleman smiled and nodded to the woman, "Pleasure's all mine, Ms. Maston." He made sure to put the emphasis on her last name.

Kirk seemed plenty pleased with the meeting and the two men left the office shortly after a brief semi-coded discussion between he and Danielle about some article forum or another. When the door closed finally, Danielle sank into her chair behind her desk and put her face into her hands. She was a horrid mess, and she had just met a man that seemed to be Kirk's new best friend. She could only imagine what kind of impression she made. It would not be easy going into that board meeting. He had mocked her in her office and he had made her blush. Danielle didn't like Coleman. She didn't like him one bit. She wanted him gone for good.

The board meeting ensued as scheduled and started precisely at 9am. Danielle had a chance by then to clean up at least somewhat so she could sit in her seat near the head of the table without looking like something the cat had drug in. Kirk got up and was giving some pep talk spiel about a new advertising scheme in the magazine and a revamp of the magazine's contents. Danielle already knew about it. It was her stuff. She'd put it together. All the while she sat back, bored with the presentation.

Then came Coleman Walker's formal introduction to the company. Danielle rolled her eyes as the man stood up and beamed a genuine 'Look at me, I have perfect teeth!' smile. As Coleman shook hands with the board members, Kirk continued talking all about their new co-worker. Danielle only heard part of what her boss was saying half because she was toying with ideas on how to get rid of Mr. Walker as soon as possible, and half because she was mesmerized by the natural beauty of the man. "...In six months we'll have Sports Unlimited completely revamped and brand-new looking on our consumer's shelves. .... Cole will be working side by side with Danielle for this new re-vamp campaign to get it rolling with our ad clients and our consumer market. They will both be watching over your departments and will have the authority of the Vice President's responsibilities...."

Danielle's gaze snapped to Kirk as his words registered in her brain. Coleman had the same position she did? He'd only been here a day. She'd been with the company for nearly eight years. She'd been VP for two of those years. She had worked long and hard to get where she was and she had stepped on a few toes to get here. What did this Coleman character have that put him at the same rank with her? How could two employees have the same job title? All of this flashed through Danielle's brain instead of jumping up and screaming in the middle of the meeting. She seethed for the rest of the meeting and it took all she had not to simply jump down Kirk's throat or storm out when the meeting was dismissed.

How dare Kirk do this to her! Working with Coleman was out of the question. Let alone seeing the man take up office with her after just one day of being hired. She couldn't let it happen. She wouldn't. She was the Vice President. Not some brand new rookie pulled in off the big name magazine. She wasn't about to share that position.

The door slammed as Danielle stepped into her office. Coleman was sitting in her desk chair with his feet propped up on the desk and he grinned at her when he saw the shock register on her face.

"Let's get to work, shall we?" he said in that same voice that made goose bumps race across Danielle's skin. "There's no sense in wasting time."

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