Alex and Penelope Ch. 06byrosess©
Author's Note: First and foremost, I'd like to thank the many who have commented and written me messages. I'm also humbled by how many have added me to a favorite author list. For my first attempt at erotica and having completed this without any eyes reading it before submission, I'm honored.
I'd like to make a quick note on the character of Alex, as people have expressed their distaste in his cheating ways.
Alex is not supposed to be someone you're comfortable liking. He's rich, spoiled, selfish and egotistical. This is part of his character arc. While awakening Penelope sexually, she is awakening him from misery. She's the one who can redeem him.
If the cheating remains upsetting to you as a reader, you're not going to like a good half of this novel. But as the writer, I hope you'll stick it out. There will be scenes in this book that might not be your cup of tea, and they're easily glossed over. The bigger picture is about a man and a woman who shouldn't fall in love, but do.
Thank you for your time. I am consistently updating my bio to answer questions, so check back there. I don't want to make a habit of writing lengthy notes before a chapter, or commenting on my own stories. That's the best place to get your answers.
And so it continues:
Alex rose with the early sun in Penelope's bed, her naked body beside him, her neck on his arm. He slid it out, careful not to wake her and looked down on her longingly. With a heavy sigh, he climbed from the bed to dress and shower.
It was seven thirty when he buzzed by Beverly to snag his morning coffee. Reuben met him with the morning paper in the study, then without pause, Alex walked by his personal assistant and into his office. She followed and stood before him at his desk with her organizer in hand.
"So, what's the damage?" Alex asked her.
It took them an hour just to prioritize and get the day planned. A piece of real estate he'd been interested in had fallen through, and he was angry. But that he could accept. As Jessica continued down the massive list of only the most important calls he'd received the week before, his palm hit his forehead. Somehow they put order to it, working the VIP's in today and the next. He told Jessica to schedule the rest whenever she could find time.
"You also have these," Jessica said, flinging four envelopes in front of him. He chuckled silently. He had most definitely returned to real life. Her pen was poised as she waited for him to open them.
All four were invitations, easily distinguishable in size and seals alone, not to mention usually hand delivered rather than mailed. The first was for an End of Summer Soiree in two weeks at the Spaulding's, the event time 10AM-???. He'd fucked Katie Spaulding several times before she married her fifty-eight year old husband, Ellis. Even a few times after. She'd been a model for Hustler and starred in a handful of Vivid's productions. She and Ellis had an open marriage and they always threw wild parties. Claire would be home by then. She didn't really like Katie, but enjoyed trying to show her up.
He tossed the card over. "Put it on the calendar," he told Jessica.
The second was for a cocktail party this Thursday hosted by the Lodge's. Their parties were always formal, usually centered around the debut of a new piece of art they'd acquired. "RSVP that I will be there with a guest," he said, then set to opening the next.
"How is Penelope settling in?" Jessica asked him. She knew every detail of his life, as her job required. But she was also close enough to him after three years to know a little about his personal life. She'd been hired two years after his second marriage had ended, and spent the first year head over heels in love with him. Even still, now twenty-seven, she had a thing for him, even though she currently had a boyfriend. She knew things weren't great with his wife, Claire, though she didn't know to what extent. She'd also seen how excited he was that his goddaughter would be coming to live with him.
Alex smiled to himself as he worked open the third envelope, thinking about how well Penelope had settled in. "She still has a long way to go," he said, thinking about her sexual awakening. "It'll be awhile before she's totally comfortable here, but I'm glad I took the time off last week, despite the chaos it's created for the both of us. We're gonna be working some long hours, you and I."
Jessica grinned. Late nights in his office came with a headache of hard work, but it also meant they sprawled out on leather chairs with brandy as they weeded through paperwork together.
"See if you can make time for this," he said, handing her the third invite for a fundraiser next month. "I think I'm in New York, but if things can be juggled, an appearance would be important."
What he didn't mention was that he never wanted a night away from this house again unless he had Penelope with him. He knew business trips were essential, though he's always tried to stretch them out since marrying Claire. Now he wanted to condense them into the shortest amount of time possible.
The fourth invitation was to a bris, and he shuddered. The invitation specifically explained that the actual surgery would be happening that morning and they were celebrating the rite of passage that afternoon, but he could still forego. "And no," he said, handing the invitation over. "Send them a gift."
Jessica left his office to start scheduling for the week into the study where she had a desk just outside his door. Alex set straight to work.
Penelope woke late and stretched. Her body was relaxed, but she still had a lingering pain between her legs. It wasn't so bad, actually, and she liked that it reminded her of what had taken place. Of course she'd hoped to wake up in Alex's arms this morning, but knew he was back to work.
After a shower, she noticed it was mostly cloudy and thought that the weather was rubbing itself in her face, telling her the world had returned and she was back to keeping herself entertained. While dressing, she felt a lump in her throat, wondering if this meant things were over with Alex now. He was back to his busy life, and in two weeks his wife would be home. It even bothered her that she didn't feel all that guilty, like she should feel so much worse about it. Maybe it was just the afterglow, or maybe it was that while Claire was in Fiji, Penelope didn't feel like she existed at all. She'd have to wait and see.
Beverly met her in the kitchen and poured her coffee, then told her she'd have breakfast out in a jiffy. Rather than sitting in the dining room, Penelope pulled a chair up at the bar and talked to the woman while she cooked.
Beverly was surprised Penelope was hanging around while she cooked, and realized how lonely she must be now. She was glad Alex had made a point of spending time with her, as it must feel so strange to suddenly leave everything you knew behind.
After breakfast, Penelope sat down to look through her new textbooks, which took a good chunk of time from her morning. Before lunch she decided to go work out and noticed on the treadmill that the clouds seemed to be burning off. But the pool wasn't nearly as enticing as it had been over the last week without Alex there to share it. It was probably warm enough though, so she retrieved a book and a blanket, then set out into the front of the house to lay under an enormous willow and read.
She noticed a gardener working nearby and watched him. He seemed close to her age; a few years older maybe. Now that Alex was busy, she needed a friend. Ben, the driver, was probably in his late twenties, and she'd try to get to know him when she finally ventured from the house. But until she started school, she was alone.
So she decided to go over and introduce herself.
She found that his name was Andy, and as luck would have it, he'd been attending the same university she'd be starting at for three years. He took summer jobs working landscaping to help pay for his schooling. Penelope followed him around listening to him tell her about what to expect, the classes to avoid, the events that were held. He asked her if she'd rush a sorority, then recommended that she did when she said she wasn't sure. He told her about his fraternity, then spent another hour telling her which houses were better than others.
Andy had heard from Ben that a gorgeous girl had moved in with Alex, but hadn't met her yet. He'd thought Ben was just being Ben as he was told how hot she was, because Ben liked anything with legs. He'd listened to Ben talk about how he'd try to score her and laughed, but he hadn't expected much. Penelope was not only beautiful, she was great company. Smart, funny, charming. She'd certainly brightened his day.
Alex had seen out his window that Penelope was hovering around his gardener and was immediately jealous. Luckily he was too busy to give it much thought, and he figured at least this way she wasn't left all alone. He'd have to keep an eye on that, though. Andy was much closer to Penelope's age, and he was an attractive guy. He wanted her to have company while he worked; wanted her to make friends so she wouldn't feel abandoned by him. But he needed to be sure the people she met were only friends.
He called Jessica in. "Penelope doesn't start school for three weeks," he stated. "I'd like you to organize a party this Saturday." He hated that he had to do this, but knew it was necessary. "Make a guest list of families that have kids her age, say, sixteen to twenty, and draw up an invitation explaining that I have a guest living with me now who will be soon attending the university. Make the wording explicit that I expect them to bring their children, and call it a welcome to the neighborhood party or something. You can figure it out."
Jessica nodded. "Hours and theme?"
"Pool party," he said. "With a barbecue." He sighed, knowing how late the notice would be. "Everyone can you find. She needs to make friends." Another sigh. He didn't want her to be corrupted by the rich. He wanted to do the corrupting. But he didn't have a choice. It was this or leaving her lonely. This or the frat boy gardener. "Tell the printer I expect them within an hour, then I'd like you to see that they are personally delivered before nightfall." He was grateful he had enough clout that most would set aside any prior plans. Jessica turned to go, but he caught her once more. "When you've sent the order to the printer, please go find Penelope and let her know."
With a smile, she left his office and he returned to work.
While raging at an employee he had embedded in a company he was greatly invested in, he glanced out the window again to find Penelope still with the gardener. They were closer to his window now, working on the hedges about fifty feet away. He could see how Andy was looking at her. He channeled his jealousy back into his phone call.
Jessica tapped on his door while he was studying papers. "Penelope is excited for the party," she told him once inside. "She asked if Andy could come."
Alex's eyes popped. "Did she do this in front of him?"
Jessica laughed. "Of course not!" she cried, shaking her head. "She chased me down at the door. She was quiet enough that he couldn't hear."
Reluctantly, Alex gave in. "See that he gets an invitation before he leaves today."
Dinner was missed, which wasn't uncommon. Beverly brought him a plate that grew cold before he ever touched it. By nine, he was still at his desk, Jessica in the leather chair to the side as they went over some legal documents. At eleven, they finally decided their work would have to resume tomorrow.
"Before you go," he said to Jessica, "I need a favor."
"Anything," Jessica said honestly, though she was dragging on her feet.
"I'll be escorting Penelope to the Lodge's cocktail party Thursday, and she'll need a dress. I'll need you to take her to find something appropriate tomorrow." He hated to lose Jessica with how much work had piled on his plate, but Penelope would need something to wear and he didn't have the time to help her himself. Plus it might keep her away from the gardener, at least for tomorrow.
Jessica was thrilled over her task. "I'll be sure to find something wonderful," she assured him.
"Take your time. Have lunch with her. Let her do a little extra shopping if she desires."
Jessica smiled at his generosity, looking forward to a day of fun rather than work. "Won't you need me here?"
Alex laughed without humor. "No doubt," he said. "But I'll manage. Just plan for another late night while we hammer the rest of this out."
The moment Jessica left, Alex rose from his chair, joints aching from sitting so long. After a search of the house, he found Penelope in her bed fast asleep. He'd expected as much, though felt like he was letting her down. It was letting him down, but after a few days of repairing the damage his vacation had done, he'd hopefully be able to take some breaks, maybe call a day off early.
He went to his room and fell asleep.
The next morning he was up early enough to work out before meeting Jessica in his office, once again taking breakfast and coffee at his desk. At ten, he rang for Reuben to have him locate Penelope and send her in.
Minutes later, Penelope entered his office. He introduced her to Jessica, who shook her hand.
"Jessica will be taking you out shopping," he told Penelope. "There's a cocktail party Thursday that I'm hoping you'll join me for, and you'll need a dress." He nodded to Jessica in the way she recognized as dismissal, so she left and shut the door behind herself. Alex turned his attention to Penelope. "I'm sorry I'm so busy. In a few days things will get back to normal. Jessica has my card and money is no object whatsoever. I told her that if you want anything else, it's yours."
Penelope watched Alex stand from the desk, having missed the sight of him. He was so attractive in his white shirt and black slacks, reminding her of how he'd looked when he'd entered her room Sunday night. She missed him greatly, and it had only been a day.
Alex crossed the desk and placed his hand on her cheek. "I promise that time will be made for you. This week might be tough, but I'll keep this weekend free. Well, aside from the party Saturday, that is."
"I'm excited about that," Penelope said.
"I'm glad," he responded tenderly, brushing her hair over her shoulder. "I'm hoping you'll make some friends. I'm sure this is hard on you right now."
"Oh, it's not so bad," Penelope said. It hadn't been all that bad. As an only child, she was used to being alone, though yesterday she'd spent the afternoon with Andy, which had been nice. She'd even found herself attracted to him, though she missed Alex a lot. She wondered if they'd ever share another intimate moment again.
Last night she'd thought a lot about it as she hoped he'd visit her room. She'd decided that their relationship was entirely unrealistic in the long run, reminding herself that Claire would soon be home and it would be over. She didn't regret what had happened, but it hurt now that it was seemingly over.
"Have a fun day," he said, dropping his hand from her shoulder.
Penelope had hoped he'd kiss her; reaffirm that he still cared about her. "I will," she said, trying to hide her disappointment.
Ben drove them to town, and they spent two hours in a dress shop, finally settling on a shimmery purple dress with spaghetti straps and an asymmetrical hemline. Penelope tried to keep herself from looking at the price tag, but couldn't, and found that it cost just over a grand.
After they'd made their purchase, they enjoyed lunch on the patio of a bistro, then went shopping for shoes. She found a pair of strappy sandals, then decided to add five more. She desperately needed nice shoes. Upon passing the lingerie boutique, Penelope felt a sadness wash through her.
At four, they returned back to the estate and Reuben brought her purchases to her room while she went to work out, spending an hour on the treadmill. After a shower, she settled into some gym shorts and a tee and spent the remainder of the evening watching television alone.
The following day was sunnier, so she went on search for the gardener. She found him out back and followed him around like she had on Monday. She really enjoyed his company, though the absence of Alex was ever present in the back of her mind.
Again, she was asleep before she ever saw Alex.
Thursday afternoon, she took a long bath in the deep tub that was large enough to sit four. She took her time dressing in the cocktail number, finding that if she wore a bra and panties, the lines showed through the thin fabric. It felt pretty weird forgoing them, but she didn't have a choice. The next hour and a half was spent making sure her hair and makeup was flawless. Promptly at seven, Alex knocked on her bedroom door.
She opened it to find him in a suit and tie, his shirt a shade of purple that matched her dress like he'd somehow known. He must have. Maybe Jessica had told him. In his hands he held a large flat velvet box.
"I was told Jessica failed in finding you accessories," he said, noticing she wore a simple chain that probably wasn't even real silver. He popped the top. "I think these will match."
Penelope's jaw popped open. Her eyes landed on an elaborate purple sapphire necklace, though still delicate, with at least twenty gems in different shapes and sizes. Above them were two earrings in the same color and style. Across the bottom was a silver bracelet with small gems spaced an inch apart.
"I can't," she said, shaking her head.
Alex laughed. "Don't worry, they're only loaners," he said. "If you decide you want them, they're yours. But jewelry stores usually lend sets to their best clients in hopes of purchase." He removed the earrings and handed them to her, then took the necklace from the box.
While she worked them in her ears, Alex turned her around and clasped the back of the necklace. He then retrieved the bracelet and spun her back around, helping it onto her wrist. He took a step back and stared at her.
"Beautiful," he said admiringly, wishing he'd never agreed to go tonight. He now wanted to take his time in removing the jewelry, followed by the dress, and bed her the rest of the night.
Penelope felt beautiful; more than she'd ever felt in her life. Alex held his arm out and escorted her from the room.
The Lodge's lived in a brick mansion in the same part of town, as close as neighbors got, even though it was a good two miles away. They were dropped off by Ben, who drove over to where the other chauffeurs waited. He recognized most of them, climbed out of the car, and joined them with his flask, telling them all about the eighteen year old beauty who had moved in with Alex for college.
Penelope was overwhelmed. The guests were dressed to the nines, ages ranging from hers to old as dirt. She found it sort of strange that the oldest seemed to have the youngest wives, and those young wives had curvy bodies with enormous breasts. The hosts were a couple in their late forties, and were overly exuberant when saying hello to Alex.
"This is a friend of my family's, Penelope," Alex said, gesturing to Penelope and loathing that she had to be introduced as such. But if he didn't, the rumors would spread that he'd scandalously shown up with an unknown woman on his arm. At least he hadn't called her his goddaughter. He'd never call her that again, unless pressed to. "She's living with Claire and I while she starts at the university next month."
"Well, what a pleasure to meet you, Penelope," Helen Lodge said. She smiled, but her eyes glossed over with disinterest. "I hope you're enjoying your stay."