Equal Shares Ch. 43bysteveh11©
The first day back to work at The Firm was Wednesday, the 3rd of January. Anne immediately went to see Percy and handed in her notice.
"I'm very sorry, but I really have to leave on the twelfth," she told her manager.
"But that's only just over a week away!" he exclaimed, obviously annoyed.
"My new firm, Boundless Waves, will pay compensation for the short notice. But I'm really very sorry, the date's non-negotiable, it's either then or no deal. In the meantime I'll get my project as tidy as I can make it, and brief who ever you set to take over," she told him.
Percy was not pleased.
"I'm inclined to fight you on this, Anne, but I expect that would be counter-productive to us all. I'll telephone your new employers about the compensation."
Slightly frostily he then instructed her, "Go on, Anne. Better get on with it."
The news spread through The Firm as quickly as such juicy gossip will. Stan, passing through Sales later that morning, overheard Ewan telling one of his coterie in a loud voice that was intended to be overheard, "I understand we'll be losing the Ice Queen. No big loss, I've been saying for ages we should get someone who'll concentrate on working, not screwing!" Stan's blood rose as he heard the sycophantic chuckles that followed.
As he passed in to reception he asked Elaine, "How the hell does that Ewan keep his job? He's got the manners of a pig – a chauvinistic one. I thought they'd been banished!"
"Mouthing off again, is he?" answered Elaine. "Trouble is, he's actually a good salesman. I get a lot of sales enquiries come in for him. He makes my skin crawl, but he's good at what he does."
"I don't suppose his daddy being who he is hurts, either!" growled Stan, sourly.
"No, but it's probably not what you think. He's got contacts, Stan. He uses them." Elaine gave Stan a careful look. "Don't create trouble for yourself, Stan. You won't change anything, anyway. Now, I hear Anne's leaving us, and soon?"
"Yes, she is," Stan told the short blonde. "She's going to work for a start-up firm. And I mean she's going to work, too."
"Oooh. Harder than she does now? That's difficult to imagine!"
"I know!" Stan told her. Elaine had to take a call, so Stan walked through and sat at his desk. Elizabeth was there, and had also heard the news, of course. They'd spoken of it as a possibility before, but now it was a definite. Anne had said that if it happened, it would mean long, long hours.
"I guess this means you'll be seeing more of Denise?"
Elizabeth leaned forward. "Be careful, Stan. Don't neglect Anne. She'll need your help if she's working that hard."
"I know, Elizabeth. So does Denise, and Anne of course. We want to help each other, not break apart."
"Well... Watch out. You're all going to be under a lot of strain, and tempers can fray. Also, people react to such things in different ways. Be alert for one trying to split you away from the other, Stan. I can see you don't believe it could happen, but human nature is human nature."
Stan began to protest, but his heart was overruled by his head. "I know Elizabeth, I know," he told her with a sigh. "I don't want to believe it could happen but I know it could. I guess I'll just have to try to recognise it and snuff it out if it happens."
Elizabeth looked at him for a long moment. Then she told him, quietly, "Or, you might be forced into making a decision, Stan. I hope it doesn't come to that. But what's holding this all together is you, and you'll have to look out for any antipathy between the two of them. All the time you're the sole anchor, your relationship will be vulnerable if one of your ladies falls out with the other."
Stan glumly nodded. He didn't want to have to think about it, but knew he would anyway.
Just then, however, Denise came to see him, smiling brightly, her hair cascading over her shoulders like a bronze waterfall, her tight white blouse emphasising her bust. All thought of conflict flew from Stan's mind as she gave him a kiss on the cheek before sweeping by on her way into the Production area. 'You're a very lucky man, Stan!' he told himself.
- - - - - - - - - -
While at home or going out at night, both Denise and Anne made a point of wearing the special jewellery given to them by Stan, but neither wore them at the office. As Anne said, "There are quite enough wagging tongues as it is without feeding them unnecessarily." Denise just snarled, "Oh, screw 'em!" - but in the end she'd agreed to go along with Anne.
Stan was with Anne a lot during her last week at The Firm, especially after she'd worked late, long beyond her normal work hours. Denise had made herself scarce on two of what should have been 'her' nights to allow Anne to have some more time with Stan. While this was good for Anne, by Wednesday evening she was both excited by the prospect of the new challenge and becoming worried about how it would affect their relationships.
On Thursday night the three had a quiet drink in the Mitre, then went to Stan's house. They loafed around just talking about things.
Denise said to Anne, "Look. We all know what's going to happen next week and for the foreseeable future. You'll be getting up and leaving before Stan and I wake, then you'll be working flat out before arriving home late and wanting nothing more than to go to bed... to sleep! So we'll have to make the most of what time you can spend with us."
"Yes," continued Stan, "so with that in mind, Denise and I have decided to ask you something."
Stan stopped. He looked at Denise, who looked excitedly back.
"What!? What!?" Anne blurted, when Stan left that hook dangling, deliciously.
"How do you feel about sleeping at my place, Anne? I mean, all the time?" he asked. "You see, if you did that, and Denise did as well, one of us could get up with you every morning, and we could arrange it so one of us was always there to welcome you home as well. I know it's not perfect, but it would be better than getting up alone, coming home and going to bed alone, and seldom seeing either of us."
Denise added, "Yes, and Stan's got the room for it to work. Oh, please do it, Anne. You know you'd hate going to bed by yourself all the time, waking up alone and seldom seeing us."
"Hmm." Anne leant back in her seat. "It sounds like a good idea, but there are times when I just want my privacy. You know that, Denise. You do too, Stan. Come to that, there will be times when I'm tired and irritable and snappy and bitchy... You'll be glad I'm not with you all the time. So if it's going to work, I'll sometimes escape back to my own place, I think."
"That's fine, Anne," Stan told her, before Denise could speak. "We didn't want to crowd you or anything." He gave Denise the merest flicker of a warning, but it was enough to stop her trying to browbeat Anne – as if that could ever work!
"The other thing is, I can give you your own room, if you like," he went on. But Anne demurred.
"No, that's not going to work. Where will Denise stay? You can't go re-jigging your office as a bedroom, Stan, and you've only got the one spare room. No, we won't go dedicating a room for me, I think. I have a home, and the offer of a bed any time I want it with you – either alone in the spare or with you, my darling man. So I'll spend as much time as I can with you both, and I'll let you cuddle up to a sleeping zombie if that's what you want. Okay?"
"That's fine, Anne. As for you being a zombie, I think even like that you'll have more life in you than most people!"
Anne turned to Denise and pretended to gag, "Yech!"
Then she looked Stan directly in the eye. "I'll show you just exactly how much of a zombie I am, Stanley Hinch!" She stood and swayed over towards Stan, who drank in the sight of her.
Denise smiled and stood as well. "I think I'd better leave you two lovebirds to it! I'll see you tomorrow, Anne, Stan. Don't do anything I wouldn't!"
Anne called out of the corner of her mouth, her eyes never leaving Stan, "As if that is any restraint!" She heard a chuckle, then the living room door closed. By the time they heard the front door opening and Denise's cheery "Goodnight, both of you!", Anne was half undressed already and Stan was trying to catch up.
Stan was surprised by Anne's ferocity. She attacked him, kissing hungrily, almost tearing off his clothes. Stan was given no time to think, no time to really react, he was simply overwhelmed.
His body knew what Anne wanted though. Anne reached for his erection with one hand while thrusting him down onto the sofa with the other. She swung a leg over him and knelt astride, lowering herself onto him, merely pulling her panties aside. Stan was in his underwear, his prick standing proud through the fly, and entering Anne as she groaned her need before his mind had a chance to catch up.
The position was a little awkward but Anne made it work, her back arching and undulating as she drove herself, grinding herself, on Stan. Anne's teeth were clenched but she kept eye contact with him as she moved, her need, her lust evident to him. Finally Stan began to move, thrusting to meet her, one hand reaching for her belly while he began teasing a nipple with the other. He twisted, gripping tightly but all Anne said was a growled "Harder!" as she fucked herself down onto him. He did and saw her eyes narrow, but still she looked into his eyes, into his soul. Stan saw, in her, her desperate love for him tonight and was more than willing to sacrifice for her if that's what she wanted, needed.
But it was as well that Stan was no longer a teenager. He managed to keep himself from coming long enough for Anne to scream out her orgasm, her belly muscles rippling, eventually firing Stan over his own finishing line, spurting deeply up into her womb. Anne collapsed onto him and they both lay there, unwilling to move, Stan's arms around her, just catching their breath.
Finally, Anne gasped into his ear one word.
"You. Can say. That again!" he grunted out.
When they'd recaptured their breath, Stan poured them drinks and Anne lay with her head on his lap. She raised her head to take a sip of her vodka and bitter lemon, then lay back again.
"Christ, I needed that, Stan. I'm not sure why, but I did. Thank you."
"You're welcome," Stan told her automatically. He paused, then went on, "Um, maybe more worried about your new job than you let on, perhaps?"
"Probably," the sexy blonde admitted. "I've been thinking a lot about it, that's for sure. You took my mind off it for a while, there!"
"Good!" he answered, running a hand over her flat belly. He poked a finger into her belly button, teasingly, and she giggled.
"That's another way to make me forget, but I prefer the first one!" she told him, "but for now, can you just cuddle me, Stan?"
"Sure," he drawled out lazily, still in a post-coital haze. He struggled to focus.
"You know, sometimes you almost frighten me, Anne," he told her. "That was amazing sex, but my God you simply took over. What happened?"
Anne turned and buried her head into his belly. Muffled, he heard a sob, and he stroked her hair, saying, "Shh! It's okay, Anne, it's okay," until she quieted a little and came up for air.
"I'm sorry, Stan. Most of the time I can keep myself under control. But that was a glimpse of me losing it! It's... it's the prospect of not being able to make love to you, of working flat-out and doing everything right and still, if I'm honest with myself I guess, I'm frightened silly, Stan. I think fear, compounded by what Denise said at just the wrong moment – or was it the right moment! – that triggered me off."
"I don't mind, but my goodness you simply marched up to me and took me. I don't think I've ever known you, or anyone else for that matter, to be so aggressive. I loved it, as a change, but I think I prefer it when I can keep up, when I can please you, be loving to you."
"Oh, you pleased me all right!" Anne declared, running a finger, barely touching, down his cheek. "Please me any more and I'd have fainted!"
She smiled, lovingly, at him, and he couldn't help but smile back.
"We can go to bed, later, and you can show me how to make love more gently, perhaps?" she asked, with a coquettish smile and a lift of an eyebrow.
Stan smiled and said, "I think I might be able to handle that, Anne."
- - - - - - - - - -
That Friday was the last day for Anne at The Firm. She had mixed feelings: some of the people there were really very good, both professionally and personally, while she wouldn't miss some of the others at all.
Anne was a bit surprised to realise just how much she'd miss seeing Elaine's cheery face in reception. She'd also come to appreciate Elizabeth, although until meeting Stan she'd never really met her. She even, grudgingly, admitted to herself that Percy served a purpose there.
Ewan, on the other hand, and his sycophantic crowd, she would easily do without. His snide remarks, always behind her back but not quite loud enough for her to hear word for word, drove her to distraction. Ewan wasn't the only one to comment on her "unusual lifestyle" with Stan and Denise, but he was the most vociferously opposed to the whole thing. Anne wondered about that, why was it that he was so against it?
"Elaine, I wonder why it is that Ewan has taken against me so much. It seems so personal to him."
"You really don't know? It's easy, he wanted you for himself. I see it in his eyes, and believe me his eyes follow you everywhere."
Anne looked glumly at the shorter girl.
"Hmmph! I suppose I had guessed, really. He's such a toad. I couldn't possibly have been with him anyway. Still, I'll be out of here soon."
"Ignore him and his crowd, Anne. We're going to miss you, you know," Elaine told her.
- - - - - - - - - -
As always, there was a collection and a card. Percy made the presentations in the canteen that afternoon, and Anne had to make a short speech.
"Thank you all for the collection. The card, signed, I see, by all of you, I will keep as a memory of some happy times spent here, and I can always use the Borders gift certificates! I wonder whom you asked! I know I've not been here as long as many of you," she said, "and I know too few of you well. But there are many people here I will miss, both in the design labs and elsewhere in the company.
"I can say, now, that there are also some people here who I will not miss. There are people who, for some misogynist reason, don't seem to think that a woman can do challenging technical work as well as a man. You all know who they are." She was now looking directly at Ewan. "They are a cancer in the heart of the company, one that needs to be cut out, because otherwise The Firm will be denying itself a full half of potential candidates. To everyone else, I say goodbye with sadness, and I hope that someday I'll see you again."
Anne collected her things together and strode, with great dignity, out of the canteen. On the way she walked right by Ewan, who opened his mouth as if to say something. Anne simply swept by, cutting him dead.
- - - - - - - - - -
As was traditional, Anne spent the evening of her last day at a bar, the Mitre, drinking with her former colleagues.
Stan and Denise were there, of course, as was Elizabeth, who remarked, "I'll only stop for the one drink, Anne, but I couldn't let you go without saying goodbye!" Anne responded, "I'll be back for the wedding!" earning herself a curious look from Elizabeth.
Others came and said their goodbyes: Percy popped in on his way home; Rick, Joseph and Phil from the design group came; as did Graham who drank a coke with Anne before going home to his family. Anne was surprised and touched by how many people came to see her off. There was soon a small but happy crowd of people at the Mitre. Anne enjoyed her evening, acting like as a hostess, visiting each of the small groups of people that inevitably collect together, aided by Stan and Denise who were veterans of this sort of thing.
Late that night, at Stan's house, Anne, Denise and Stan gathered together to honour Anne's departure from The Firm and the start of her new venture. Stan held his glass high and toasted, "Any excuse for a drink will do!", but there was a tinge of sadness as well... no longer would he be able to take a trip into the Lab and see his lover.
Denise saw in his expression just what Stan was thinking. She didn't think it was expedient to say anything just then, but she was honest with herself enough to know that secretly she'd be happy to see more of him.
Anne, meanwhile, was concerned with two things.
One was, of course, her love for and relationship with Stan. Each of them was working hard to make sure the three-way relationship worked, even under the new conditions. But she couldn't help but worry.
The second thing was actually more and more at the front of her mind. This new business would be a significant risk – she might end up with only a failure, even if her own part was as good as she could make it. So much could go wrong that Anne couldn't, herself, affect. In order for the business to thrive, it all had to go perfectly.
Anne knew just how unlikely that was. If it wasn't a success, she'd have only a reduced salary for the time being and no 'extras' - so she'd have to be quick on her feet to get another job. Anne still had to keep a roof over her head, and all the other payments that come due with modern life. She was conservative by nature – was this a good risk?
'Only time will tell,' she told herself, 'it'll not be my fault if things don't go as we've planned!'
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