tagBDSMMidlife Correction Ch. 02

Midlife Correction Ch. 02


"Well he says he knows you, Julia. he says he went to high school with you."

"Ross Brandt? But I don't remember a Ross Brandt. He was in my class?"

"I don't know," Danny said, taking his coffee from her. "But I want you to find out. I want you to have had a secret crush on him if you can manage it, Julia. All two hundred million dollars of him. He really seems to have a thing for you. Says he sat behind you in band."

Julia stopped right where she was, blocking the narrow corridor that led to the meeting room. Amy Gossman almost ran into her.

"Oh my God!" Julia froze, swept back twenty-five years, remembering the large, gangly blond who played last chair trombone three rows behind her when she played flute in the Palos Heights High School Band. "Hannibal Brandt? Hannibal the Cannibal? He wasn't even human! He was the class Oaf!"

Danny grabbed her by the arm and pulled her along.

"Well, he's no oaf now. He's Ross Brandt, and Mr. Osteen's going to want to know all about him."

"Danny! You can't tell Mr. O. I knew him in high school!"

"No. I won't. That's an ace up our sleeve. I'm just going to run over the same stuff you presented at the meeting yesterday. Don't worry about it. But when Brandt gets to town, we're all going out for a nice dinner. You, me, Brandt, and Allie, and if the Oaf wants to see you alone after that, I expect you to do your duty as a loyal employee, Julia."

They filed into the conference room and took their seats around the big table. Julia leaned over to Danny.

"What are you saying, Danny?"

"Don't get all upset. You've had dinner with clients before. This is no different."

"But this is a client I went to high school with."


Allie came in and took the seat on the other side of Danny and Julia put on a poker face. She didn't trust Allie, but she didn't like where this was going. She didn't like Danny's rabid interest in Brandt's money, and she didn't like Brandt's interest in her. And she couldn't believe this Ross Brandt was Hannibal the cannibal from Palos Heights high, this inept, awkward doofus with no social skills who wore the same shorts and sweat shirt to school his entire senior year. On the phone he'd sounded so slick, so confident. Why hadn't he said anything?

"I've got the labs," Allie announced. "Pretty interesting."

"What do they say?" Danny asked.

"Well, Ultimate Man Can-Do is a mixture of vitamins, drugs and botanicals. Mostly vitamin C and caffeine, and then there are some ground up plant stuff they're having a hard time identifying. But here's the thing. It looks like the competitor's product is totally different. Different plant materials."

"Oh? They're sure?"

"That's what the labs said."

Danny frowned. "That means he doesn't even have a case."

Allie nodded sympathetically.

"That means all that business down the crapper," Danny said reflectively.

"Well," Allie said. "We can still go after them on trademark infringement."

Danny nodded. "Yeah. And Brandt doesn't need to know we did this analysis yet. We can do some work on his patents first. Lets sit on this for a while until he talk to him, okay? We don't know anything."

Julia sat back. This was the part of the business she didn't like, the sleaziness, but she said nothing.

"Turns out, Mr. Brandt knows Julia from high school," Danny said.

"Oh?" Allie looked at her.

"Yeah. he told me on the phone last night. Was saving it as a surprise but he just couldn't hold it in. That's why he's been so curious about her. This gives us a certain in with him."

Allie smiled. "So it looks like you'll be riding point on this one, huh, Julia?"

Mr. Osteen came into the room. Everyone sat up and cleared their throats and the meeting began, but not before Julia had caught the catty look in Allie's eyes and she wondered again what the woman's problem was, but she couldn't keep focused on it because the lawyers were quickly going through their list of new and prospective clients, and Danny ran down the facts on Ross Brandt's Pacific Holistics crisply and cleanly, neglecting to mention the new analytical data they had.

Osteen seemed pleased, and the meeting went on to matters of budgeting and scheduling and Julia lost interest. It was a bright and cold day outside, and her thoughts returned to what had happened last night, a subject she hadn't stopped thinking about. She could still feel the cuffs on her wrists, the collar around her neck. She could still feel his hands on her and hear his words in her ear.

She returned to her desk after the meeting and called up "Jewelry" on the local shopping guide on her computer and started scanning addresses, but there was no need. There it was under "Bernard": Bernard Jewelry and Fine Leather. She clicked on the website and was taken to a page showing watches and leather cuffs, and she quickly shut the window, aware of the people in her office going about their business.

On a whim, she called the number and listened to the phone ring. It rang four times and then his voice came on, inviting her to leave a message.

She almost did. Looking out over the frozen rooftops with their plumes of blowing smoke, she almost said, "This is Julia. What did you do to me last night? How did you do it? I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. I want you to do it again, but I want more this time, and I want it slow so I can notice every bit."

But she didn't. Instead she just thought about him all day.

* * * * *

At home that night she told the girls she had to make an important call and told them not to disturb her, then she paced in her bedroom for ten minutes, nervously watching the clock. How late did he stay open anyhow? She was wasting time, and yet she was too nervous to call.

Finally she got out her cuffs and put them on, then pulled the sleeves of her sweatshirt down over them in case the girls should come in. She spread out some papers on the bed as if she were making a call and sat down with the phone and closed her eyes.

She remembered herself in Miles's back room, clipped to the chain, that special feeling of helplessness and anticipation. He could have done anything to her. It could have been dangerous, truly dangerous, but instead he asked her what she wanted him to do. He asked her. He wanted to help her fulfill her fantasy. That excited her, and in a strange way it disappointed her too. He had held her in the palm of his hand. Surely there was something he wanted to do with her himself, and she wanted to know what that was.

Julia stood up and started pacing again. He'd told her to come back. Maybe that was why, so he could have his way with her, so he could do what he wanted to do. What would that be?

He'd fuck her of course. He was a man, and he'd have to do that, and strangely she found she didn't mind, because there'd be more, she knew there'd be more. He'd make her do things, make her feel things, take control of her, and she found all this unaccountably exciting. She'd be clipped to the chain again in that dark back room with the window high on the wall, and Miles would touch her. he'd violate her. Maybe he'd tie her ankles this time too. Maybe he'd take her clothes off. He'd want her. He'd already told her he'd been waiting for her to come back so she knew he wanted her. It was so strange to be wanted again. So strange and so exciting!

Julia sat on the bed and dialed the phone. Her hand was sweating. It was answered on the second ring—Inga.

"Bernard Jewelry and Leather. May I help you?"

"Is Mr. Bernard there, please?"

"Who may I say is calling?"


"Just a moment, please."

The sound of the phone being put down. Julia already knew what she would say. She rehearsed it quickly.

Then he was on the line. "Julia?"

"Hello, Miles."

"So good of you to call. I was just thinking about you."


"Yes. The most wicked thoughts. Are you coming by?"

She was caught by surprise. "Whatever for?"

"Oh, I'll think up some reason. I'd really like to see you."

Julia had called with an excuse to visit him in mind, but Miles was ruining her script. She quickly plunged ahead: "Well, I was thinking... I wanted to give you something for the collar, Miles. I really don't feel right just taking it like that."

"Mmm. That'll do. When can you come over?"

"Well, not tonight. Tomorrow, possibly?"

"Oh." He sounded disappointed. "We're open late on Saturday. Tonight would be better."

"Miles..." She drew a breath. "Can you talk? Privately?"

"Umm... Let me go into the office." She heard him muffle the phone and give some instructions to Inga, then he was back, the acoustics of his voice different. "Go ahead, Julia."

"Miles," she began, and then realized she had no idea what to say. This was the man who'd put cuffs on her wrists and bound her, who'd put his hands on her and made her come. A stranger, and yet more intimate with her than any man had been in the last seven years.

"Miles, what are you doing to me?"

"You'll have to come over here and find out."

"No, don't joke with me. Is this something you do with a lot of women? I wouldn't mind. I mean, I would, but if this is something you do with a lot of women, I'd understand. I just want to know why you picked on me, if this is something common for you, something typical."

"Typical?" He laughed. "No. I wouldn't call it typical. I liked your looks, Julia. I liked the way you acted. You looked like someone who'd respond and you did. I like women who respond. Did I make a mistake?"

"A mistake? No. I didn't say that. The truth is, I don't know what's happening to me. I'm not like this really. This isn't me. I want you to know that."

It was a stupid thing to say and she expected him to give her some contemptuous answer, but instead he said, "All right. What are you like really, Julia?"

"Well, I mean, I'm a mother. I have two lovely girls. I have a house, a home, a good job."

"Excellent," he said. "I'm happy for you. And what does that have to do with anything?"

"I just think it's important that you know."

"Uh-huh. So you think you have to be some sort of deviant to do what we did last night."

"No, I wouldn't say that."

"Well, don't worry about it then. This has nothing to do with who you are or what you are or anything like that."

She heard him but she wasn't convinced. Meanwhile, she was sitting on the bed with the cuffs on her wrists and she was sexually excited.

"Have you ever worn a gag, Julia?"

"I'm sorry?"

"A gag. A ball gag. In your mouth. So you couldn't scream as you were whipped."

Julia sat there holding the phone and felt the world slipping away from her.

"A ball gag," he said. "It's a round plastic ball on a strap that fits between your teeth. The strap buckles behind your head to hold it in place. I'd use a vibrator on you, or maybe a suede or velvet flogger, and when you tried to cry out, the ball gag would muffle the noises you made so only I could hear them. As the sensations got more intense, you could make all the noise you wanted and no one would hear you except me. It's quite liberating, a wonderful, freeing feeling. We have quite a selection here down at the shop. I asked you if you'd ever used one."

Julia sat there transfixed by his voice, her eyes staring at her bedspread, seeing only his words. In her mouth she felt the intrusive bulge of the ball gag, even tasted the plastic she knew it must be made of. It was oddly comforting and arousing.

"No," she said. "I've never used anything like that."

"But it sounds appealing, doesn't it, Julia?"

She shook herself out of her semi trance. "Look, Miles..."

"It's all right, Julia. I know what you mean. You're not like this. You're not the kind of woman who does this kind of thing with a man like me. No one said you were. No one said you were anything. Why do you worry about it so much?"

"I don't know. I really don't."

"Come down here. Inga's leaving soon. I'll send her home early. Bring your cuffs and collar. I'll show you the ball gags."

"Miles, I don't think I can."

"Sure you can. How old are your girls? They're old enough to stay alone for a few hours. They'll understand. I'll be waiting for you, Julia."

* * * * *

The girls did understand. Mom had to go down to the office on sudden business because of that phone call she made, and the girls would be okay. Beth was a saint. Julia tried not to think of the deception she was pulling, and really, it wasn't that difficult, given the state of excitement she was in. It wasn't that Miles had given her an order—no one gave Julia orders—but there was a sudden urgency to get down there, a feeling that he was waiting for her and that she didn't want to disappoint him. It was important that she show him she could be punctual and on time. What would happen when she got there, she wasn't sure, but she intended to be fully cognizant and aware of everything he did and said this time and note how they affected her. She wanted to see how he achieved the results he achieved.

She had no excuse to dress up for him so she wore jeans and a decent sweater, her short boots and her weekend knock-about coat. Anything else would have raised the girls' suspicions. As with last time, she did go down to the office and sign in and went up to her cube, where she shuffled through some papers. Then she went to the bathroom and put her makeup on, making herself beautiful as she hadn't done in years.

You're ridiculous, Julia! Acting like a teenager! For what?

For the feel of his cuffs on her wrists, his hands on her body, the way he possessed her and took her over.

The thought embarrassed her. What she was doing embarrassed her if she stopped and let herself think about it, so she didn't. She went back to her desk and looked through her files, looking for some busy work to do.

The Pacific Holistics file caught her eye and she opened it up. Ross Brandt. Hannibal Ross Brandt. She'd hardly said two words to him when they'd been in high school, sensing at once that he was not one of the boys you talked to. Not that Julia had been stuck up, but after a painful adolescence she had finally managed a degree of acceptance into the cool crowd and she'd learned how the game was played. There were the A-list guys, the cool guys and the acceptable guys, and then there were the Hannibal Brandts, the semi-human Piltdown men who orbited the student body like some tragic asteroid belt of geeks and misfits. Brandt had been too big for his body. Not fat, but hulking, with an unruly shock of blondish hair and a surly, befuddled look on his face. He was some sort of geek—computers, maybe—and Julia'd been nice to him but she'd kept her distance.

And Julia was ashamed of the way she'd been back then—a nice girl who thought if you followed the rules and worked hard, life would cough up its rewards the way teachers coughed up A's and perfect scores. There was a lot she'd missed out on and a lot she was forced to catch up on later, after Ryan left her.

And now she was being set up with Hannibal Brandt in a way she wasn't sure she liked, as if she was that same little play-by-the-rules airhead.

She looked up at the clock. She had a few more minutes she wanted to kill before she got to Miles's shop, so she opened the folder and looked at the sticky note inside. In Danny's handwriting it said:

"Julia—What can you tell me about him? What do you remember from H.S.? I'm counting on you to charm this guy into being our client!"

She made a face, picked up a pen and wrote in her meticulous hand:

"Didn't have much to do with him in high school, Danny. We traveled in different circles. Honestly, I don't know if this is going to work."

She paused. She was going to write more and tell him what Ross had been like in high school but she didn't know how to phrase it politely, and anyway, the whole thing suddenly seemed so distasteful to her that she just slammed down the pen, closed the folder and threw it in the drawer. She picked up her coat and gloves and walked out.

She found a place to park easily enough but she was nervous and frustrated when she walked in, Miles locked the door behind her and turned off the lights.

"Don't," she said.

"What? We're closed."

"Miles, I don't know if I can do this."

"Take off your coat."

She looked at him for a moment, then took off her coat and gave it to him and he laid it on one of the display cases.

"Where are your cuffs?"

"In my bag."

"Get them."

"Miles, it just can't be sex like this."

"Who said it was just sex?"

"But if it's something more..."

He smiled. "You don't know anything. You really don't know anything. Give me your wrist."

He took her right wrist, pushed her sleeve up, and buckled the cuff onto it, then did the same thing with the other wrist. Julia was aware that they could still be seen through the windows of the shop, should someone stop and peer in, but Miles didn't seem to care. She was nervous, unready for this.

"Miles, I think I'd better go."

He turned her around and took her wrists and clipped them behind her and suddenly she couldn't move her hands. She tugged at the clip but it held solidly. She was defenseless.

"These cuffs," he said. "They're symbolic. Don't you realize that? They're symbolic of how you give yourself to me. Without defense, without interference."

Without another word he bent his head and kissed her, kissed her as if he had no choice, his mouth slanted to hers, one hand holding her arm to keep her in place, the other hand immediately closing on her breast. He kissed her hungrily, as if he'd been holding it back and could only release the force of his passion now that she was bound, as if she'd crossed some invisible barrier when he'd clipped her wrists together. Julia was staggered by his hunger, by the naked ardor of his seeking tongue and the pressure of his desire. He pushed her back against the wall and his hand gripped her breast possessively, thrilling her with the kind of violence she suddenly wanted. She needed to be defenseless and vulnerable against his need. Her arms were back, her chest out, head thrown back, posed like the figurehead on some wind-driven ship plowing through stormy seas.

"God you drive me crazy like this!" he whispered as he kissed the side of her neck and kneaded her breast. "How can you tell me you want to leave?"

Julia gasped. Too late she remembered her plan to pay attention to everything he did to find out what called forth this mindless sexual response, but she knew it was already too late. She was like an animal in heat just from having her wrists clipped and receiving that kiss and his having hand on her breast. When he touched her in the crotch of her jeans, she gasped again and sought out his mouth to stifle the moans that came eagerly to her lips.

Use me! her body cried. Don't pay attention to my fears. Take what you want from me, whatever it is!

"Come on," he said. "Come in the back."

She was going to say no. She was going to resist. Between what Danny had planned for her and Ross Brandt and the easy way Miles seemed to control her she was feeling manipulated and resentful, but that was just the trouble. There was a part of her that liked it—not so much the manipulation, but being controlled, having the responsibility taken from her, being reduced to this childlike state of near-innocence about what was being done to her. Miles held her arm in one hand and took her things in the other and guided her into the back of the store.

It was sweltering in the back, the heater blasting. The chain was there, and this time there were two wooden four-by-four posts about three feet apart running from floor to ceiling in one side of the room, hung with chain. Julia didn't have to ask what they were for.

Miles unclipped her wrists and Julia stopped.

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