tagMind ControlThe Glass Ceiling Cracks

The Glass Ceiling Cracks


Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. If you really want this kind of stuff to happen, you obviously haven't thought the consequences through and need to stop reading these kinds of things.

Oh, yeah: Trademark, copyright, and ground-you-walk-on by Big Daddy 5.


Monday was going to be hell. Amanda Wilson knew that. She was going to face at least two snide comments from them. Maybe three. They'd sit in comfortable chairs atop their glass floor and look down at her. She'd look at the glass ceiling above her and fume. "I'm coming, you bastards! You can't stop me!"

Peterson would likely be first, since his office was next to hers. "Gonna join us at the club tonight, Wilson?" he'd ask. He never called her Amanda. Only Wilson.

"Yes, I will!" she'd snap. She never did anything but snap when talking to Ian Peterson. The man was a complete chauvinist.

God, she thought. That's a word I haven't heard since I was a little girl! Whatever happened to words like that? When did it start being wrong to want what the men want?

She reasoned that maybe it was what was happening in the

world. The only women you heard about in the news anymore were brain-dead bimbos with the hots for politicians. A dozen years ago, Amanda's lawsuit would have been the top story on the national news for months. Now, it was old hat. The final decision made page eight in the local paper. Bread and circuses, she thought.

Times had changed of course, but Morley and Associates was dragged, kicking and screaming, into the Twenty-First Century. Amanda was hired when somebody noticed that all of the executives at the firm were men. No one had to go to court that time, but they didn't like it. No sir, not one bit. They made sure that Amanda knew it, too.

Her first day there, Amanda walked into an empty office. On the floor was a crate marked "Furniture". Inside was an ironing board and an iron! Amanda always prided herself on her humor, but she was hurt and insulted by the cheap shot. Still, she said nothing and ordered the proper furniture. When she walked out of her office for lunch, that first day, she saw the man in the office next to hers snickering. She just noted the words "Ian Peterson" on his door and ordered a urinal for his office, that afternoon. It was installed after-hours and waiting for Peterson, the next morning! Amanda always gave at least as good as she got.

But while Ian Peterson was her greatest tormentor, he was hardly alone. There were also Gregg Hartman and Phillip Wildeman, for starters. Or, as Amanda referred to them, "the Hardly Boys". They looked like a gay couple on steroids, to her eyes. Always together and always rowdy, she took an instant dislike to them.

Even old man Morley was a problem. He was always polite and cordial to her, but she knew that he went to the local "gentlemen's club" for lunch most days. And the way he looked at his blond, well-endowed secretary was outrageous! She looked like a wet dream in tweed, which made Amanda cringe. Even her name made Amanda uncomfortable: Candi. It was even spelled like a stripper's name! She looked as if the business clothes she wore were part of her costume and she was going to hop up on her desk and start stripping at any moment.

In fact, it struck Amanda for the first time, that Sunday night, that most of the women in the office were young and beautiful and as brain-dead as a cage full of gerbils. You could see it in their vacant eyes. And the smoking! Every one of them was a smoker. You'd see them outside, rain or shine, lighting up. Amanda had given up smoking in college, and even then had smoked Carltons. She shuddered at the thought of ever picking up a cigarette, again.

Amanda's last thought, before sleep claimed her, was just how hard it was going to be to face everyone, just two days after the lawsuit-- her lawsuit-- was finally settled. She knew how they all felt, from Morley down to Peterson. She didn't make any friends at the firm with this. She doubted she'd make any more by showing up at the club, either.

Monday was a bit cloudy and windy, but still pleasant enough to make Amanda Wilson smile. She got her usual bagel and coffee at the coffee bar in the building lobby before riding the elevator up to the fifteenth floor and her office. She shared a secretary with Peterson. The secretary, whose name was Wendy, was sitting at her desk, doing her nails.

"What do you think, Ms. Wilson?" Wendy asked, thrusting her nails into Amanda's face. "Scarlet Jungle Red."

Amanda reflexively pulled back to eye the painted nails with veiled disgust. "They're okay, I guess, Wendy."

"I hope Mr. Peterson notices them!' she beamed. "He is such a hunk!"

Amanda rolled her eyes. Maybe her dislike for Peterson colored her perceptions a bit, but she couldn't leave that comment alone. "Wendy, I would hardly consider Ian Peterson 'hunk' material."

"He's like Tom Cruise and Harrison Ford rolled into one!" Wendy gushed.

"If you mean he's fat, I agree," Amanda muttered under her breath as she glanced at her stack of morning mail. When she didn't get a response, she looked up to see Wendy walking toward the elevator with a pack of cigarettes.

"That girl has the attention span of a fruit fly!" Amanda fumed. She spun around on her heels and almost knocked Ian Peterson down! He staggered a bit, but managed to stay up.

"Damn it, Peterson!" she snapped.

"Hey, whoa! Sorry, Wilson," he said, reaching around her to grab his own stack of envelopes. "Can I get my mail here?

"Hey, what time are you going to the club tonight, Amanda?"

The use of her first name threw her. "What?"

"I said 'What time are you going to the club, tonight?'"

"Don't sweat it, Peterson. I'll come and go from the club as I damn well please!" Ian Peterson laughed. "Hey, sorry. Just asking. My car's in the shop, and I could use a lift there, myself."

Amanda blinked. "You're asking me for a lift? Me?"

"If that's alright," he said, his tone suggesting sincerity. "I'd really appreciate it."

"Uh, yeah. I guess so."

Peterson smiled. She hadn't seen him do that since she dropped the paperclips. "Thanks, Amanda. I really... Thanks." He almost ran back to his office, waving at her.

"Sure. No problem." Amanda shrugged and walked into her own office. She stopped short when she saw that the room was empty, except for Ralph Gilford and her wastepaper basket. He was picking it from the floor and walking toward the door with it.

"Gilford," she snapped, "where the hell is my furniture?"

"Um, in the new office, Amanda." He said, innocently. His voice suggested the same patience a parent has when his child asks why the sky is blue.

Again, the first name. "New office?"

Gilford smiled. "Sure. You know, the corner office."

Amanda raised an eyebrow at him. "You mean I'm getting Shumway's old office?"

Gilford headed toward her, but stopped when he realized that she wasn't going to step out of his way. "Of course. They just finished putting in the new sprinkler system. I thought you knew, Amanda."

"No, I didn't."

"Well, I've almost got it organized. Come tell me what you think."

Amanda followed the mousy, little Human-Resources Director to the spacious corner office that Andrew Shumway had vacated upon retirement. She had expected Peterson to get the prize office. It was far larger than her old one or Peterson's, and he had seniority. Her feet stuck in place slightly, on the plush carpet. There was a new, large desk there, and all of her things atop it in boxes.

Ralph Gilford put down the basket and turned to her. "Is it okay? My wife helped me pick the colors. She's an interior decorator, you know."

Amanda nodded, looking at the wet bar in the corner. "Yeah. It's fine. Thanks." The whole thing was surreal, and Amanda Wilson decided to just go with the flow until Rod Serling made an appearance. "If you need anything," Gilford continued, almost running to the door, "let me know." Gilford was always a skittish person, but the way he ran out, he seemed almost afraid of the room.

Not Amanda. She sat down in the large, leather chair and spun it around to look at the city below her in the floor-to-ceiling windows. "So, the glass ceiling cracks."

An hour later, Phillip Wildeman showed up at her door. She was putting things away and didn't notice him until he rapped, lightly.

"Hey, Amanda," he called. "Got a sec?"

Amanda nodded, almost dumbfounded at the workout her first name was getting, today. "Why?"

Wildeman glanced around to see if anyone was looking. When he was satisfied that no one was, he said "Congrats of the lawsuit!"

Amanda Wilson's mouth almost dropped to her desk. "What?"

"I, for one, was all in favor of it."

Amanda could feel her cheeks flush. "Wildeman, you called me, and I quote, 'that ladder-climbing little pseudo-secretary' in court! Have you forgotten?"

"Hey, look, sorry about that," he almost whispered. He actually blushed! "My job was on the line. I couldn't say I thought that you were right with old Mr. Morley right there, now could I?"

"You damn well could have!"

Before Wildeman could respond, he spun around to see Hartman pass by. "Hey, Gregg!" he called out, taking off after his friend.

That night, Amanda took Ian Peterson to the club. He was a perfect gentleman the whole trip, talking about his life and his work. Not one rude comment passed his lips. If she didn't have the memories of all their past difficulties, Amanda might have relaxed and enjoyed the talk. As it was, she simply kept a stoic expression as he rattled on about inoffensive things.

The Stalwart Club was one of the most prestigious organizations in the whole town. Lots of charity work was done there, and lots of business deals went down between the brownstone walls of the mansion that served as its headquarters. This was the old boys' network that Amanda had tried so hard to pierce. This was a chance to advance without her gender being an issue. This was what her lawsuit had been about.

She pulled up the long driveway and let the attendant open the door for her. Another did the same for Peterson, and the two headed toward the thick, oaken doors that led to the mansion inside. The attendants must have heard about the lawsuit, because they didn't raise an eyebrow as they watched a woman enter the club, breaking a 96-year-old tradition.

Ian Peterson waved at a few people who were in the main hallway, before leading Amanda through a door to a study. The plaque beside the door read:

Private Room

Morley and Associates

Inside, Amanda found everyone who had tried so hard to keep her out. Mr. Morley was reading a book. The Hardly Boys were arguing in hushed tones about something. Ralph Gilford was pouring himself a brandy. They were all dressed in their office clothes. No one looked up as she entered.

"Hey, Ralph," Peterson called. "Pour me one too, big guy!"

Ralph nodded, but didn't look up.

Okay, Amanda thought. I knew this wasn't going to be easy. She took the snifter from the silent Ralph Gilford and poured herself a brandy. She then sat down in a leather chair, picking up two books on the table beside her. She was trying to decide between The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe and Milton's Paradise Lost when a shadow fell across her light. Amanda looked up to see a surprisingly handsome stranger looking down at her.

"Hello. Ms. Wilson?" he asked in a deep, rich tone.

She nodded.

"I'm Quentin Broomfield," he said, extending a hand. "I'm the new club manager. Welcome."

Amanda accepted his hand and shook it. "New club manager? What happened to Smythe?"

"Mr. Smythe's services are no longer required," Broomfield said, his hand lingering to hold hers. "It was felt that new blood was needed to change with the times.

"May I sit down, Ms. Wilson?"

Amanda nodded and indicated a chair close to hers. Mr. Broomfield sat down in a relaxed manner and crossed his legs. "How is everyone treating you, tonight?"

Amanda glanced at the room's other occupants, who seemed oblivious to the conversation she was having. She had no doubt that they heard it; the room was small enough for that. Yet they didn't seem to notice. "Acceptably, if a bit distant."

Broomfield laughed. It was a good, masculine laugh. "Changes are not always easy, Ms. Wilson. Give them a few days to adjust. They're basically good people. They just need to grow."

Amanda nodded. They're basically good people, she thought. Then, No! They're not. They're heartless and stupid. Why did I think they weren't?

"Uh- How long have you been in this line of work, Mr. Broomfield?" Amanda asked, shaking her head, slightly.

"Oh, today's my first day," Broomfield laughed. "I was a biochemist before I was hired by the Stalwart Club."

Something crossed Amanda Wilson's mind; a lingering thought about biochemistry and some sort of scandal at Stanhope College. A co-ed had been having an affair with a professor. Odd name. Started with a "Q". She shook her head harder, trying to clear the cobwebs that seemed to be gathering inside.

Quentin Broomfield smiled a million-watt smile at her. "You can trust your coworkers, Amanda. They're your friends."

They're my friends, Amanda thought. She felt odd, as if she was floating. I can trust them.

"Well, I must make the rounds," Broomfield said, suddenly. Amanda gawked at him in silence, trying to categorize his statements. Her thoughts came slow and thick. Quentin Broomfield just stood up and walked out of the room.

"Amanda, over here," Peterson called out, snapping her from the stupor that seemed to be fading along with Broomfield's presence. "Join us."

Amanda smiled as she stood up and walked toward the men. "All right."

A servant was there with a cedar box from which Ian Peterson was pulling out large, thick, expensive cigars. He handed one to each of the other men, then pulled out two more. He nodded to the man holding the box. "Thank you, Manfred."

"Olor Cuadrado," Mr. Morley stated, clipping the end of his with an expensive tool. "A 50 ring, if I'm not mistaken, Peterson."

Peterson nodded, reaching for his own clipper. "You have a good eye for cigars, Mr. Morley."

The older man chuckled. "I should. I've got over a hundred pre-Castro Havanas in my humidor, at home. Damn Jack Kennedy, anyway."

Ian Peterson held out a clipped cigar toward the woman as she sat down in a chair. "Would you like one, Amanda?"

Amanda laughed. "No, thanks. I quit smoking a few years ago, and I would never have smoked a cigar, in the first place."

Morley rolled his eyes. "For God's sake, Wilson! Smoke a cigar. It won't bite you."

They're my friends, Amanda thought. Without further hesitation, she accepted the proffered cigar and put it to her lips. She rolled it as she saw the men do, puffing on it in what she hoped was the correct way. The flame from the lighter jumped erratically as she tasted the smoke in her mouth. She had read that you never inhale a cigar as you do a cigarette, so she was mindful of the cigar's strength while it was being lit. She assumed that it was done correctly, as Peterson pulled away the lighter and sat back to light his own.

Amanda pulled on the cigar in earnest, then removed it from her mouth, noticing the red ring her lipstick left behind. She could taste a hint of vanilla in the smoke. Did they do that with cigars? She leaned back slightly, blowing the smoke from her mouth and towards the ceiling. It spiraled upward and dissipated. She smiled. She could get to like this.

"A fine cigar," Morley said to Peterson. "My compliments to our Mr. Broomfield. I was afraid the flavor would be affected."

"It's a nice flavor," Amanda drawled. She relaxed with each puff on the cigar, sinking deeper into the leather chair she was seated in. She watched the thick ashes on the end burn slightly red as she drew again on it. God, this was so relaxing! She'd have to try it again, very soon.

All eyes were on Amanda as she smoked the cigar. Morley was leaning forward in his chair with a fascinated gleam in his eye. The Hardly Boys were agape, as if expecting something to happen. Even Peterson and Gilford were watching her, keenly.

Amanda had heard that some men really got off on watching a woman smoke a cigar, and that sure seemed to be the case with her fellow workers. The woman decided to give them a show. She was feeling really sexy, for some reason, and more than a little naughty. She lifted the cigar above her head and slowly brought the end down to her waiting lips. She sucked the smoke in deeper than before, seeming to deep-throat it. When she pulled the stogie away, she left her lips in an "O" shape, blowing out smoke rings toward the ceiling.

"How do you feel, Amanda?" Peterson asked.

Amanda smiled. She felt warm and delicious and a tingling was growing between her legs. She felt a need to rub her thighs together as a strange torpor settled onto her brain, making her thoughts fuzzy and indistinct.

The five men before her were farther away than they had been before; miles farther. She watched with fascination as Peterson reached out a long, long arm and shook her knee. Amanda felt a jolt of pleasure at the contact, and the tingle between her legs became a dull throb.

"Amanda?" His voice seemed to echo from far away. "I said 'how do you feel?'"

She giggled. "feel 'kay," she muttered. Her eyelids felt like sandbags. She wanted so much to close them, but everything was taking on a strange glow that held her spellbound. Amanda's sight fixated on a light behind Gilford's head. The white color seemed to dispel itself, as if through a prism, and she marveled at the colors refracted on her pupils. She felt as if her eyes were being pleasantly pried from their sockets and she couldn't close them now if she tried.

"Smoke your cigar," Morley said, his voice somehow cutting through the fog that enveloped Amanda's senses. She brought the cigar up from her distant lap and complied. She sucked down the smoke with all that she had, and a velvety softness swooped down to caress the brain in her head.

God! How does one describe rapture? The deeper and longer Amanda Wilson held down the smoke, the better she felt. Her brain was reeling now; little more than a useless lump inside her skull as she surrendered completely to the new and strange urges filling her very soul. She gave up rubbing her thighs together and spread her legs wide to brazenly finger her vagina through her rapidly-drenching panties. She could see Ian Peterson, through the haze that danced before her eyes, as he lit a fresh cigar and offered it to her. Had he smoked the last one, or had she? It didn't matter. He held the cigar to her lips and she sucked on it, eagerly.

All of the men were circled around her, now. Each looked at her hungrily, and she knew that hunger. She welcomed it. Her own gaze was full of lewdness and debauchery as she watched in helpless intrigue while each of them unzipped their pants, pulling at what was inside.

There was something in her left hand and Amanda slowly turned her head to see a man's penis in her palm. She looked up from Ralph Gilford's member and smiled wickedly at him, her dainty fingers wrapping themselves willingly around the thick shaft. She pulled on it and his groan was like distant thunder to her ears.

She was surrounded by cocks now, and her right hand grabbed at Morley's semi-rigid member with a mind of its own. The Hardly Boys were right at her knees (which were miles away from her eyes), and they were masturbating as they watched her with keen interest. Peterson gently cupped her chin in his hand and guided her face to his waiting manhood, which the young woman engulfed between her lips without a hint of resistance.

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