I picked up the phone and dialled Tate's number but it had barely begun to ring before my office door opened.
Seeing her standing there was surreal. It was as if something had escaped from a dream to invade the solid reality of my working life. After my first full day in the office I felt a little jaded but she looked radiant. She was wearing the same linen suit over a different blouse and her face was impeccably made up as though for a night on the town.
"Who the hell are you and how did you get in here?"
All staff needed a valid swipe card to gain access but she was standing there as large as day.
"Right now, I'm your best friend."
Anger brought colour to my cheeks as she came in and closed the door behind her but I also felt an undeniable frisson.
She slowly walked around my desk and I defensively turned my chair to face her.
"Have you missed me?"
Her degree of composure was unsettling. I was at a loss for words giving way to shock, as, without warning, she dropped to her knees in front of me.
"The first day back must be a bit tense I guess...let me help you relax."
I was too dumbfounded to resist as she reached up under my skirt and purposefully took hold of my pantyhose. Like a magician pulling the cloth from a table she gave a single sharp tug and I was left with my underwear bunched halfway down my thighs,
I immediately felt the cool air on my sex and I instinctively looked towards the large exterior window but I had drawn the blinds earlier in the day to shade the sun.
This was all so terribly wrong, almost perverted, but rather than being repulsed I felt my heart hammering excitedly. She held my eyes as she gently removed my underwear altogether and then eased my legs apart.
"Good girl...you kept it nice and smooth..."
She reached out to my sex and ran her fingertips gently over the surface and I felt my stomach tighten. All of the frustration of the previous evening with Penny came rushing back and she seemed somehow attuned to it.
"I'll take care of you."
I almost fainted as she leant in to plant a single kiss at the centre of my sex and any thoughts about the impropriety of the situation were subsumed in a sudden surge of lust.
She licked along my labia fleetingly and my sex literally ached. In fact my whole body was tense as she began to kiss randomly ranging over my mound and inner thighs.
I forced myself to relax a little, with muscles threatening to cramp, but I had no sooner done so that I felt a warm wetness escape me.
"Oh, I love that.."
She touched a finger to the base of my sex and then brought it to her mouth. She began to lick the very tip in a manner so graphic that I could feel a phantom sensation deep inside.
I began to think, and fear, that I was going to reach a climax simply by watching her but she was not going to allow that to happen. She eased her arms under by thighs and her cool hands held me firm as she melded herself to me.
To begin with she opened her mouth over my sex and I could feel her warm exhalations as she breathed through her nose. It was a few seconds before I became aware of the first movements of her tongue.
She made an oblique assault licking to one side of my pudendum and then the other but each stroke opened me up just a little bit more. She kept this up for some minutes all the time increasing my frustration. I wanted her to penetrate me, to open me altogether, but she was working to her own agenda.
My sex felt incredibly hot and there was a moistening response. I was leaking to the extent that my chair was going to be in need of some serious cleaning but that only served to excite me more.
For a few seconds I found myself wishing that it was the middle of the day. The thought of all my staff busy at their desks whilst this was happening to me only metres away from them aroused me in a way that I found hard to comprehend.
She responded to my increased agitation by dipping her head fractionally and then I felt her tongue at the base of my sex. I expected her to lick upwards but, instead, she simply applied a steady pressure and somewhere inside me a dam broke.
I could feel the sudden flow of moisture and she gave a greedy moan as she swallowed. Had this happened to me in the past I would have been appalled but her response made it seem the most natural thing in the world.
She stayed as she was, taking all that I had to give, and then her tongue moved with renewed purpose. The tip traced a path between my labia, slowly pressing ever deeper, and then I felt her inside.
It was not a passive invasion. Her tongue seemed impossibly long as it twisted and writhed. I was close to a climax and I wanted to squeeze but she seemed able to spark bundles of nerves that released the tension whilst still buoying me up.
I was breathing hard and my clothes were damp against my skin but she showed no mercy. She seemed tireless and determined that I was only going to come when she allowed.
I was whimpering, pleading under my breath, when she finally relented and sought out my clitoris.
I was tempted to use my fingers to open myself for her but she denied me by closing her mouth over the crown of my sex. Her tongue then touched the swollen bud and I was so sensitized that I could feel the almost imperceptible movements as she drew a tiny figure of eight.
It was a delicious feeling. I was sure that it would not be enough of itself but I had reckoned without her patience. She continued to coax at the same inexorable pace and after a few moments my whole body was balanced on a single fulcrum of pleasure.
I had reached a point where she held complete control of my body on the tip of her tongue and she simply waited until I melted into orgasm.
It was an almost indescribable feeling. At first the waves of pleasure gently lapped at me but, with no obvious effort on her part, they grew stronger and stronger threatening to drown me. I literally had to fight to breathe as my body was shaken with the joy of it and I cried out in thanks.
I slowly regained my senses to find her preening my sex with lazy licks of her tongue and I felt an overwhelming sense of affection for this almost total stranger.
She finally got up from her knees and licked her lips for a final time before cleaning her face with a tissue. I tried to compose myself but I was at a complete loss.
"Won't you tell me you name?"
Her expression was slightly mischievous but she had toyed with me for long enough.
"My name is Ellen, Ellen Fielding"
The name meant nothing to me.
"I guess you would understand if I simply called the police."
She looked unfazed by the threat and moved to the opposite side of the desk. She took a seat and then began to speak.
"For my own reasons I have your best interests at heart. I could tell you exactly what is going on but I think it is important that you draw your own conclusions.
What you need to know is that the contract has not been signed and you have to ask yourself who stands to gain from that. When you think you have the answer get in touch with me. I have a room at the Metropole."
With that she got up and walked out of the office.
I was so taken aback I did not chase after her. My immediate reaction was to try and phone Tate but some instinct held me check. On the face of it this young woman was not altogether of sound mind but I sensed there was something genuine about her.
I sat and mulled it over for the best part of half an hour but got nowhere. It might well be that the contract had not been signed because of my accident but Tate was empowered to sign it in her own capacity.
At the finish I put the call through to San Diego but there was no answer. I left a message and then decided to call it a day.
I was tempted to avoid Penny and go back to my own apartment but I knew that I had to have it out with her. The problem was that, following my shattering climax, I felt guilty once more. I told myself that this was nonsense, as I was in no way committed to Penny, but I was desperate to know how she felt about the events of the previous evening.
As it turned out the decision was made for me. Penny phoned just as I was leaving. A client had let her down and she was left with a box at the Royal Opera House for a performance of Rossini's 'Guillaume Tell'.
It was too late to eat before the performance and so we agreed on a quick glass of wine. We met in our usual haunt, away from the tourist crowds, and found ourselves a quiet table.
We tried to be natural with one another but it was apparent, within a minute or two, that the conversation was strained. I was still shocked, however, when she came directly to the point.
"Listen, you are my closest friend. I want things to stay that way. We need to forget that last night ever happened and get back to the way things were."
I should have been relieved that she was proposing the simplest solution, perhaps disappointed, but what I felt was affronted.
"I thought it's what you wanted."
She reached across the table and put her hand on mine.
"I won't lie. I've thought about it more times than I care to think about, but it wouldn't be fair on you."
"Are you saying I wouldn't know my own mind? I'm heterosexual and there's no way to change?"
I could hear the hint of petulance in my own voice and she smiled benevolently.
"Look, there are things about me you don't know. Last night was just a hint of it."
Now I was totally confused and she must have seen it in my eyes.
"You know for yourself that I can be two different people. In general I like to think of myself as easy going but, professionally, as a lawyer, I am prepared to be totally ruthless. Unfortunately it is that side of my personality that also colours my sex life.
"I'm still not sure I understand."
"Let me make it simple. When I take lovers I am demanding and greedy. I always like to receive and very rarely give."
She must have read my mind because she continued, answering the question that I had not put into words.
"You're thinking that it must be impossible to sustain a relationship on that basis? You would be amazed how many women there are out there, natural submissives, who want exactly that."
The word conjured up darker connotations and I wondered if she was hinting at something else. The image of Penny with leathers and whip seemed absurd but now I was curious as to how she saw me.
If I was asked to describe myself I would use adjectives like ambitious, successful perhaps even calculating but she then said something that threw me completely.
"You think that we are much alike, and that is true to an extent, but, at heart you are a submissive. If you and I entered into a relationship things could never be the same between us. You would come to adore me and whilst nothing would make me happier, I would have to weigh that against the loss of our friendship as we now know it."
I was about to tell her that she was being absurd, that she had it totally wrong, but her choice of words made my heart beat faster. She had spoken not of love but of adoration and it struck a chord deep inside me.
I had a hundred questions but she was instantly dismissive. She drained her glass and picked up her handbag.
"Come on, or we shall miss the overture."
It was a brisk ten minute walk to the opera house and we took our seats in the box. There was chilled champagne already open and Penny poured two glasses. The famous overture came to a rousing finish but my mind was completely elsewhere.
Our seats were arranged diagonally and Penny was slightly in front of me. As the curtain was raised and the opera started she appeared totally engrossed but I could not stop myself from stealing glances at her.
I kept trying to make sense of what she had said in the wine bar and I realized that I was drinking champagne a little too freely.
At the start of the second act there was a friendly commotion in the box adjacent to ours. It seemed that they were trying to accommodate more people than there were seats and one of their number was left to stand.
She was a young woman, slim, elegantly dressed in a white silk sheath set off by a string of pearls at her throat. She pantomimed to us asking if her presence was disturbing us and Penny gestured a polite 'of course not' in return.
Now it was Penny's turn to be distracted. I noted, with a twinge of envy, how she surreptitiously looked away from the stage to gaze at her. At one point the woman must have felt her eyes because she turned and graced Penny with a sweet smile.
Penny turned in her seat towards me and I assumed that she wanted a refill but she beckoned me closer. I leant forward, conspiratorially, and she whispered in my ear.
"I want you to go down on me."
I drew an astonished breath. It was an outrageous thing to say but her words made my heart pound. On stage the principles had just begun the moving "'Quand l'Helvétie.." and I wondered if she was suggesting that we leave immediately.
I looked back at her and my question was answered in a manner that shocked me to the core. She was in the process of slipping out of her panties and then she sat almost regally with her legs parted.
I thought again, about everything she had said, all of the implications, and I knew that I should simply get up and walk away but I was held by something beyond my control and I was contemplating the unthinkable.
The box itself was in deep shadow and the door was latched. If I was on my knees I would be completely out of sight...except for the woman in white. If she were to look back...
I was barely breathing and time seemed to stand still. I wanted to look her in the face but I found that I could not. My eyes remained downcast and I slowly went to my knees, the weight of her words having taken on an almost physical quality.
All was dark. Ancient wood panelling, heavy, damask curtains, a deep piled carpet and, in the midst of it, her thighs assumed an almost ethereal paleness.
I drew closer and my sense of smell was heightened. The fabric of the building leant a musty undertone counterpointed by the distinctiveness of women's perfume but my nostrils flared as they sought out one particular scent.
It drifted in the air enticingly, luring me in, until I was pressed by her thighs and the music took on an other-world quality.
Her sex was sopping, suggesting that this was more than a sudden whim, but I was beyond caring. I opened my mouth and took my fill of her.
I felt, rather than heard, her sigh. She put a gentle hand to the back of my head and then, with a single finger, she stroked my cheek in a clear signal that she wanted to feel my tongue.
I reluctantly took pause and began to lick slowly taking in the whole of her sex. I used the flat of my tongue to spread her labia and then ploughed a deeper furrow using the very tip.
The whole situation was wrong in so many ways, and I would have been mortified to be discovered, but I felt a sense of both comfort and arousal that made my body tingle.
The very thought that Rossini's music was transporting two thousand people to the cantons of Switzerland whilst, in their very midst, my world was bounded by a pair of silken thighs was intoxicating.
At some point I think she came. Her sex relaxed a little and it was markedly warmer but there was to be no respite. Her hand remained behind my head asserting control and urging me to continue.
I was tempted to focus on her clitoris, to quickly take her back to the peak, but I had a greater need. Using a steady pressure I speared my tongue deep inside. I knew now that, after she came, her taste was subtly different. I could not explain it but it was, in some way, more rounded and I yearned for more.
Her fingers moved in my hair at the back of my neck letting me know that she understood all of this and that she was, for now, happy for me to take my reward.
I lost track of time but some part of my brain registered the fact that the second act was coming to a close.
I slipped away from Penny and took my seat whist she rearranged her skirt and began to join in with the applause. As the lights came up I looked towards the adjacent box to find the young woman looking directly at me. She was still smiling but I am sure that I detected a glint in her eye.
I felt myself blushing as so I excused myself and made my way to rest rooms.
I could not meet my own eyes in the mirror as I washed my face and reapplied my make-up. I was strongly tempted to leave there and then but good manners would not allow me to walk out without first saying something to Penny.
I took a deep breath as the interval bell sounded summoning us back. I took a moment to compose myself outside the door to our box but I was rocked back when I found that we now had another guest.
Penny did not miss a beat.
"I asked Beatrice to join us. It's silly for her to stand whilst we have all this space."
It was the young woman from the adjacent box. I had originally guessed her to be seventeen or eighteen but I could see now that she was probably a year or two older.
Penny was explaining that Beatrice's aunt was a late addition to their party leading to a shortage of seats but I barely registered what she was saying.
I was taking in the way that she sat, relaxed, but straight-backed, a privileged young woman born to a world of opera and champagne. I am not a fashion aficionado but the simple lines of her dress were suggestive of Norman Hartnell.
She had crossed her long legs leaving the hem of her dress draped in such a way that it threatened to slide up altogether to reveal her thigh.
I looked away but not before noticing her breasts. They were discrete mounds, in keeping with her slim build, but she was not wearing a bra and her nipples formed distinct points in the white silk.
I was acutely aware of my appraisal of her but I was disturbed that I could no longer sure be of my own motives.
I took a seat, leaving Beatrice sitting between us, as the curtain rose for the third act.
I tried hard to concentrate but our new companion had a habit of twirling her finger in her short blonde hair and I found it distracting. I started to notice small details like her slender neck and her immaculately manicured nails. It grew particularly irksome when she transferred her attentions to her string of pearls running them through her fingers.
On stage the scene changed to the square at Altdorf and Beatrice leaned forward to whisper something to Penny.
Penny whispered a reply whilst looking at me over Beatrice's shoulder. I felt a twinge of jealousy at their easy intimacy but, as Beatrice sat back, her fingers still at her neck, her pearls became unfastened to cascade down the front of her dress and on to the floor.
Without thought or hesitation I knelt to try and retrieve them. I found them immediately and, thankfully, the string had not broken but then I saw that Beatrice had not moved at all.
I handed her the pearls which she took from me without a word of thanks. She allowed them to hang from her finger and I watched as she lowered them towards her lap. She paused for a moment and then drew them towards her pulling up the hem of her dress as she did so.
As her bare thighs were revealed I cast a glance at Penny. She was looking directly at me with an amused smile on her face.
I knew then that Beatrice had watched and Penny's invitation to her extended to more than just a seat in our box. I felt cheap and used but as Beatrice slowly opened her legs I was overcome by an almost heart-stopping excitement.
She may have been young in years but she had an innate understanding of the psychological dynamic at work. She did not open her legs altogether. When they were a few inches apart she ran her fingertips slowly up the length of her thighs moving her dress completely out of the way. Only then did she teasingly reveal the one thing she knew I was desperate to see.