Midlife Correction Ch. 04bydr_mabeuse©
She thought refusing to stay with Miles was the smart thing to do. Making love twice was more than enough, and she needed time to think about and process what they'd done together, but driving home all she could think about were his eyes and the feel of his hands on her, the passion of his kiss and the way he'd awakened something inside of her and drawn it out, something that had been buried for too long. By the time she pulled up to her empty house, she wasn't so sure coming home had been the right decision. The feel of his skin was still on her, the marks of the cuffs were on her wrists, and the clothes she wore were the ones he'd pulled off her body before he'd tied her down and made incandescent love to her. They felt wrong and cold, as if they no longer fit.
She'd expected to come home to her usual identity as a mother and head of a family, and was prepared for the shock of transition, but without the girls there, the place seemed bleak and abandoned and she felt lost. The fact was, she missed him, and she resented it. She missed his dark presence, the sensual menace of him, the hardness of his shoulders and the glow in his eyes as he looked at her. She thought of calling him at once but she was afraid, as if just the sound of his voice would send her running back to him, and that wasn't the Julia she knew or wanted to be. She drank three glasses of wine and stared at TV and was able to get to sleep at last, but by Saturday morning her body felt deliciously used and sore and she couldn't get him out of her mind. By Saturday evening, her chores done, Skip's lasagna in the oven, she cracked. She called him at the shop. They had each other's numbers now. They had them for just such occasions as this.
"Julia. How are you?"
"Good. A little lonely, actually."
"Me too. I wished you hadn't left so quickly."
"I had to, Miles. I couldn't have stayed. I'm not ready for that."
He sighed. "You seemed ready to me."
"Oh? What does that mean?"
"It just means that you seemed like you wanted to stay. That you had to tear yourself away, Julia. You're treating this like more than some casual affair."
"Did I? Did I seem like that? Well yes, I'll admit it. You're doing things to me, Miles. You have to understand what a big change this is for me, how different this all is."
"I understand Julia. It's all kind of intense."
"It's more than that. It's... Well, can I talk? I'm not embarrassing you?"
"Of course not."
"Well it's like ever since I was a little girl I've had these fantasies of being kidnapped by pirates or abducted by a handsome prince on a white charger. I mean, this is silly and they were just a little girl's fantasies. I was too young to even know what sex was or what adults did with each other. But now I realize, they were all a part of this. They were all leading up to this. When I got older, in high school and college, I dreamed abut being tied up and..."
"Yes. I understand. And it worries you. You think you're sick."
Julia brushed her hair back out of her face. "No. It's not that. I mean... Well, it doesn't seem quite normal, does it? I know everyone has fantasies and fantasies are normal, but when you start acting them out..."
"There's nothing wrong with acting them out," Miles said. "Look, I can give you all sorts of theories about BDSM and why people do it. I'll tell you about them sometime. Meanwhile don't worry about them. And don't worry about what we're doing. I'm not going to hurt you, Julia."
"Not on purpose, no."
He paused. "What do you mean?"
"This relationship we have, it's just sexual, isn't it, Miles?"
"It's what you want it to be."
"Yes, well that's what I want. I want to explore the sexual side, that's all. I can't afford to get involved at this point in my life. You understand that, don't you, Miles?"
"Oh, of course," he said. "Of course."
"I'm sorry. I don't mean to sound so mercenary. I'm just trying to keep things clear and on an adult level."
"Not at all, Julia. If you want to keep this on a sexual basis, I'm fine with that."
"Well, I'm not sure. I'm not sure what kind of basis I want to keep this on. I'm afraid I'm getting obsessed. The things I want..."
He was quiet. "Like what, Julia?"
"I don't know," she said, but in the back of her mind she thought she did know, and it frightened her.
"That necklace I gave you? Wear it to work tomorrow. You said you have a private office?"
"I'll call you there during lunch. At 12:12. Be there alone."
She felt a thrill surge up through her stomach and raise the hairs on her scalp.
"Miles, why? What are you going to do?"
"Just do it, Julia. I have to go now. Remember. 12:12. Now good night."
She hung up the phone and sat there, then got the necklace from her purse and put it on. The stone warmed quickly to her body temperature, and she sat there, just caressing it until she heard Ryan pull into the driveway with the girls. Then she quickly took it off and put it back into her purse. But already she felt naked without it.
* * * * *
"Well, Julia, I don't see what the problem is! You've gone out for dinner with clients before."
"Yes, but this is different. I knew this guy in high school and I treated him like dirt. I remember that now. It would be very uncomfortable for me."
Danny stared at her. "So what? That's water under the bridge. We were all jerks in high school and he's not a jerk now. He's probably over it."
"No. This is different. You didn't hear him when he called me. He sounded eager to see me again, like it's going to be a reunion or something. It's going to be creepy. It just doesn't feel right, Danny."
"It seems ridiculous," Allie said. "This is a client that could mean a lot to this firm and make us all look good."
Danny gave her a dismissive look but Allie didn't catch it. Danny didn't have to prove himself to anyone at Baker and Sprewell. He turned to Julia. "What do you mean you treated him like dirt?"
"Well, not really me so much. I was nice enough to him, but everyone else in school treated him like a pariah. You know how it is in high school, how mean everyone is to the kids are different, the geeks. Hannibal was... Well, weird. A misfit, a real ugly duckling."
"So the kids teased him?"
"Well no, they didn't really tease him. They just didn't include him. He was like an outcast."
Julia thought back to the big-boned blond kid who played trombone in the school band. "Funny. He didn't seem to mind much though. I mean, he didn't seem especially unhappy or anything."
"So what's the problem then, Julia? You're not making any sense."
She shook her head. "I don't know. Maybe I have a guilty conscience or something."
"He's single, you know," Allie said, and Julia looked at her. "Just mentioning it. I imagine you don't have occasion to come across many men as rich as Ross Brandt at your age. And single too. If he seems to have a thing for you, I'd jump at it."
"Thnks, Allie, but I don't think so. If you want to go for him, you can jump all you want. I won't get in the way." Inside, Julia wondered whether she might really be afraid of meeting another man, someone who might offer something other than what she got from Miles, something more normal, if maybe not as fulfilling. Something more like what she thought she should have, without the whips and chains.
She'd been unable to put Miles out of her mind all morning. She'd been unable to stop thinking about what they'd done together since she left his place, and she'd been unable to stop thinking about what was going to happen at 12:12. Her thoughts swung wildly between shock and the fervid glow of a fire that now burned within, a taste for more. Beneath her sense of outrage at what she'd done and let him do to her, she felt more youthful and alive than she could ever remember, as though she were living in a dream world where the impossible was happening, and she resented anything that intruded, including work and having to talk about going out to dinner with Hannibal Ross Brandt.
Danny stood up, the signal that the meeting was over and things had been decided.
"It'll be fine, Julia. You just have to be your cool, professional self. reminisce a little if the guy wants to reminisce, but only about the good times. You don't remember anything about him being treated like a geek. That's normal enough. People don't remember what they don't want to remember. I've met him and talked to him and he's a perfectly nice guy. We'll go out to Sharkey's and have some food and it'll be fine."
Julia knew Danny's definition of a "nice guy" took in anyone who had six or more zeroes in their personal fortune, no matter what they might actually be like, but she also knew a direct order from her boss when she heard one, and client dinners were a part of her job.
She stood up. "What time?"
"Meet at Sharkey's at 7:45. Try to have a good time."
"Business casual?" Allie asked.
"A little nicer than that," Danny said. "Julia will tell you. Thank you, ladies. See you tonight then."
Julia led Allie out of the room. "Think cocktail party and pearls," Julia said. "That should do it."
"Julia?" Allie led her aside into a corner. "You really have no interest in this guy?"
Julia looked at her. "No. Why should I?"
Allie shrugged. "He's wealthy. He's powerful."
"He makes bullshit penis enlargement pills. I knew him in high school when he was a doofus. He sounds like he's a doofus still."
"No. It sounds like you're the one who's hung up on high school, Julia. Get over it."
"What do you want, Allie?"
"Nothing really. I just want to be clear, that if something happens and we should swap dates..."
Julia stared at her. "This really isn't a dating situation. We're four people going out on a business dinner, not two couples out doing the town."
"Well of course, but you know. Things happen. You make impressions, all that."
"Allie, I don't care what you do. You've been here long enough to know that we don't make plays for our clients."
Allie looked at her conspiratorially. "Really, Julia, I'm not that obvious. I just wanted to check."
Julia watched her walk away in disbelief, then returned to her office. A quarter to twelve. She made some phone calls and declined offers of lunch with some of the girls but the situation with Danny and Allie had left her irritated and she was in no mood for this phone call from Miles. Though business dinners with clients were a part of her job, she resented Danny ordering her to go out with Hannibal, and she didn't like Allie's attitude either. She didn't like being ordered around and Danny had given her an order. She thought she knew what Miles was going to want to, and she didn't know whether she was ready for it.
She got up and got a bottle of water from the machine, and while she was there ran into Chrissy Moskowitz who complimented her on her necklace.
"That's lapis, isn't it?" Chrissy asked.
"Yes. A friend gave it to me."
"I've always loved lapis. It's supposed to mean commitment. It's lovely."
Julia thanked her but her mind was on the clock and her office. She hurried back and closed the door and sat down nervously at her desk.
At 12:12 her phone rang.
As soon as she heard his voice, something happened to her, some part of her capitulated, lay down like a dog waiting to get its ears scratched. Thoughts of Danny and Allie disappeared and she was taken by the nearness of him, his voice right in her ear, speaking to her.
"Hi," she said. "How are you?"
"Oh, I'm fine. And how are you?"
"Good, good." He was dangerous, she thought. The way she fell for him was dangerous. She had to be careful.
"And what's happening at work?"
She could feel his voice reaching for her. In the familiar surroundings of her office, it felt strange, both soothing and intrusive. It almost gave her chills, remembering the things she'd done with him, the things she'd let him do to her.
"Nothing. Well, something. Actually, I've just been told I have to go out for dinner with an old high school friend. Not a friend, really. A guy from my high school that no one liked, myself included. It's a business dinner, and I don't want to go."
"Just the two of you?"
"No. My boss and another lawyer are going."
"That's too bad. I was hoping to see you tonight."
Julia felt her chest tighten. Her body wanted to see him too—craved him—but her mind was cautious and afraid. "Well, I'm afraid that's out."
"Oh Miles, I don't know."
"Mmm." He was quite a moment, then he asked: "Are you wearing the necklace?"
For a moment she considered lying but decided against it. For some reason she knew she couldn't lie to him. "Yes, as a matter of fact."
"You know why I ask?"
"Not really." She was lying again. She did know. She knew exactly why he was asking and what he intended to do and she felt panicky about it.
"I told you. The necklace is your collar. It's the collar you wear in public, the symbol of what we have together. You're mine when you wear it. You can't refuse me."
"Oh?" she smiled. "Is that the rule?"
"That's the rule. It's just like you're wearing the collar. Now imagine you're wearing the cuffs for me too."
Despite herself she felt the tightness of the cuffs around her wrists, the stiffness of the leather collar around her neck. Despite herself, she felt the excitement start again.
"I know your secrets now, Julia. I know what you like and what you want to do. You have no secrets from me, remember."
"No, Miles. Not here. Not now."
"Why? Is there someone there? Is someone coming in?"
She didn't answer.
"Sit back in your chair, Julia. Sit back. You're all alone, right?"
"Your door's closed and no one can see in?"
"There's a glass panel."
"But you're behind your desk and they can't see you from the waist down."
"Oh God, Miles..."
"I had you tied to the bed Friday night. I've already whipped your ass and made you come, Julia. How much more proof do you need that I know what you want?"
His words were obscene and hot and they made her melt. They made the phone feel hot in her hand.
"There's no one around to see, is there Julia? You're alone in your office. It's just you and me. Trust me on this, Julia. I need you to touch yourself for me. Just touch yourself. I want to touch you but I can't do it myself so I need you to do it. I need you to be a whore for me."
"Miles, don't do this to me!"
"Open your knees, Julia. Open your knees."
She couldn't put the phone down and she couldn't refuse. She couldn't lie to him and she couldn't hang up. He was right: when she was wearing the necklace she had to do what he said. She didn't know why, but she did. She belonged to him. She wanted to belong to him, to not have responsibility for what she did.
Her knees opened. She felt her skirt pull tight against her thighs under her desk.
"Put your hand between your thighs, Julia."
"Put your hand between your thighs and touch yourself! Do it because I want you to. Because you want to please me. Because you want to, but do it, Julia!"
She reached under her skirt and her fingers found the flat, stretched crotch piece of her panties. She closed her eyes and gritted her teeth and her fingers made contact with herself and she pushed it against her moist and aching flesh, pushed, needing it, needing the pressure, the hurt.
"Oh my God!" she gasped, not believing what she was doing, here in her place of employment, the place she worked everyday. Her coworkers were right outside. She could see the receptionist's desk through the glass panel in her door.
"Are you doing it?" he asked. "Are you being a slut for me, Julia? Are you my whore?"
She spit the word out, spit it out because it was true, deliciously true, shameful and arousing at the same time.
Slut! Whore! They were the words she'd been waiting to hear, the words she'd been fearing and dreading but now that they were out she found herself reveling in them, as if the worst were finally over and she could sink no lower. This was the truth and she had to live with it. Miles had some power over her and she didn't care what it was. She loved it. She love it when he told her she was his, when he made her do things, when he tied her up and took her. She loved it, God help her but she did.
She shuddered as a raw orgasm ripped through her and she squeezed her legs together, trapping her hand between her thighs, wishing he was there to take her, to make her helpless. She bit back her groans of salacious self-fulfillment but he could tell. He egged her on, speaking in the phone she could hardly hold against her ear.
"Are you coming? Are you coming, Julia? Are you that fast, you hot little bitch? Give it to me! give it to me, then! All of it, Julia! All of it!"
It went on and on, more than she could have imagined—not that intense but there, caused by her own shame and excitement. He pulled it from her by some sort of black magic—made her flutter inside as if she was unraveling—and then at the end there was a sharp little spear of painful pleasure and she stopped. The pleasure faded away like the echoes of a summer thunder storm. It left her sitting there, half reclining in her chair like a beached puppet, tousled and bewildered.
"What did you do to me?" she asked. "What did you do?"
"You belong to me, Julia. Don't you get it? This is how it works when it works. You're mine. It's meant to be."
"No," she said. "I don't believe that stuff, that business about fate. You took advantage of me. You used me."
"Don't be silly."
"Miles, I have to go."
"Will I see you Tuesday?"
"I don't know. I have to think about it. This isn't good."
"What do you mean it isn't good?"
"I have to go. I have to think about things"
Julia hung up the phone and stood up, straightening her clothes and fluffing out her hair. The air in the room seemed close and smelled like sex, so she sprayed some air freshener and opened the door. She was flushed, hot, and sticky. She went to the ladies' room to splash some cold water on her face and try and regain her composure.
My God, what was happening to her? It wasn't enough that she was letting him tie her up and whip her and have sex with her, but now she was letting him order her to masturbate in her own office. She should be angry. She should be outraged, but she wasn't, and that's what bothered her the most. Instead she felt an inexplicable sense of something that felt almost like pride, as if she'd accomplished something by overcoming her own inhibitions and offering them to Miles, more than she'd ever given any other man. He was right: there was another side to her that she never wanted to see, something shameful and embarrassing that she'd always kept hidden, and now it was coming out. Miles was bringing it out and it frightened her.
It frightened her and yet she wanted to know, and that was her problem.
She left the bathroom and, realizing she was hungry and had missed both lunch and breakfast, went to the vending machines. The yogurt was sold out. She didn't dare try the fruit, and that left the sandwiches, which were too gross to contemplate, the dubious egg salad with the wilted lettuce, the turkey on the whole wheat that had started to curl with dryness. The thought struck her that her obsession with cleanliness itself was a way of keeping that other side of herself at bay, of keeping it hidden and controlled. Did all women suspect they were dirty like that? Or was it just her?
She thought about Beth and Mallory and what they might be learning from her even without her intending it. She thought about what they might think if they ever found out what she was doing with Miles, if they could ever possibly understand. The thought made her deeply embarrassed and worried.