There are billions of people on earth, and at least a third of them live their whole lives without being known. People know their names and faces, but their heart and their soul? They keep those hidden.
The idea is privacy and protection. At some point, most people un-brick the walls and pull back the curtains for some special person who, typically, does the same. Intimacy begets a connection that can be joyous and nurturing.
It also allows someone close enough to truly know you. And therefore know exactly how to hurt you.
Some people have been marked by the devastation of those moments where it all goes wrong. Sometimes, at their own revealing. Sometimes, by proxy. In youth, we learn directly through the experiences of our parents and siblings, as much as our own.
Those who have seen that damage refuse to let anyone in. They hole themselves up forever inside their own mind. And every so often, that buffer between them and people around them becomes a tool and their ability to repel the pressing need for intimate bonds becomes a skill.
In a few rare cases, that skill becomes something else entirely.
She was one of those few. And probably one of the strongest to possess it.
I was none of the above. Or, at least I believed I was.
Brian’s business had started as a joke between friends in college. The kind of joke that leaves you reeling when, five years later, he is one of the top 100 Most Successful Men in America under forty.
I was the kind of friend no one ever expected to amount to much. Not that I couldn’t or wouldn’t be successful, but my heart was too soft, my mind too open. My one and only skill was knowing if an idea was good or bad. That joke had been Kristy’s idea. And when I said it would work, the laughter was all but unanimous.
Seeing the business value in having someone like me around, Brian made me a partner. I got the deciding vote on new endeavours, and, in exchange, he got the deciding vote on everything else.
In the wake of the recession that shook the globe, we didn’t fold, but sought to give the world a reason to buy our product over others. Years before, I’d told him that I’d like to start a non-profit, at some point, because I never felt comfortable making a fortune knowing how many humans were starving. He recalled this, in the summer of 2008, and devised a means of donating a portion of every sale to a charity of our creation, therefore marketing the company to the masses as a business with a noble purpose.
The process was complicated and Brian had to keep me in check often, reminding me of financial reality and dismissing me whenever I got carried away talking about the people we helped.
“Fuck, Marc. Do you really think I care about this shit? It’s not about them, dude. It never was. It was a marketing ploy. An amazing one.”
“But, we are really making a diff–”
“Save it for a speech. Let me enjoy my beer.”
I lost myself to it, ignoring the stories and lives of those around me, focusing solely on the next mission or gift or cause or fire that Brian would allow me to throw myself into.
And then came Katrina.
Our friend Paul, who’d been a writer for the Times when everything went sideways, had been handling phones, press relations and travel. But got ball-and-chained and moved across the country. I had to hire someone, and fast. The phone is not my friend.
She came highly recommended by several political campaigns and was a personal assistant for a year for someone whose identity she wasn’t allowed to divulge. I later discovered it was a CEO in one of the major banks, but that was as much as she would admit. Nor would she say what had happened.
I was sure she’d be perfect before she’d even opened her mouth. Introducing Katrina to Brian was the kicker. He got to decide on everything else, remember.
Yes, he’s my best friend. But he can be a monster when it comes to women. He’d cast a nice wormy hook, and if she took the bait, that would be the end of it. She’d get fucked, and so would I. Warning her put me in the precarious position of admitting all of that.
“Brian is very… I’m not sure just how to say this.”
Crossing the street, I noticed her shoes. She’d worn heels to interview with me, but now she was in flats.
“Please Marcus. I’ve been doing this since I was fifteen. I’ve brushed off men at every job, without making them feel brushed off. I do my research. I know how to dress to dissuade attention without making it obvious.”
As we reached the restaurant, she stopped me with her hand on the inside of my elbow. Her smile was coy and sweet as she looked up from beneath her lashes. I hadn’t noticed her eyes before, but now I couldn’t break from her gaze.
My entire body responded. Every hair seemed to reach for her. My pores wanted to drink her. My mouth watered to taste her and my blood pounded inside my ears. My cock swelled ferociously while my hands tingled with a wicked desire to touch her skin, feel her inside and out, bring her to orgasm until she couldn’t breathe. My stomach roiled from the intensity of it.
As she stepped back and laughed, my cheeks burned.
“I also know how to achieve it.”
Katrina rolled her shoulders and stepped up again with her fingers wrapped around the door handle. I swear, I felt the grip as if her hand was inside my shorts.
Then I sagged with relief as all of these sensations suddenly flitted away. Like I’d imagined each one.
“You hired me because I wanted you to. And Brian will love me but not desire me, because I don’t want him to.”
For a moment, I stood inexplicably still, caught with the heaviness of trying to recall something that did not want to be discovered. But as she grinned at me and motioned inside with a flick of her head, I thought I’d simply found Brian’s female equivalent.
We sat at lunch for over two hours. Katrina ran the meeting, making prolific notes and discussing her role between the company and the charity with a confidence that was impressive. Brian, unimpressible as he generally was, smirked at her as she closed her pad folio. I gritted my teeth at this sign of him preparing his fishing line.
But the smile she’d given in return burned up the moment like a laser. Then lunch ended without incident, and Brian actually congratulated me on such a great find.
So, I shrugged off my concerns and walked back to the office with Katrina, feeling pride and success. Accomplishment at finally having judged another human well.
Oh, the irony.
It was weeks before I thought about that moment in front of the restaurant again. But I started having surreal dreams that woke me with a raging hard-on and a splitting headache.
Who puts stock in dreams? They are just your subconscious way of processing your experiences. I tried to believe it.
And as we worked closely together, Katrina loosened a bit with me. But she was diamond hard with Brian. She never budged an inch when he was around. Which only strengthened my attraction.
I spent more and more nights, alone in bed, picturing those long, strawberry blonde waves, falling decadently over her pale skin which somehow looked impossibly delicate beneath the smattering of freckles across the bridge of her nose and soft curve of her chest. Her ocean green eyes peered up at me through thick lashes and her raspberry pink pout would break into a smile before she bit down on her lower lip.
The fantasies became so intense. Things I’d never considered before. I found myself in the restroom at least once a day with my cock in hand and visions of her swimming through my head, naked and writhing, struggling and screaming, moaning and crying. I thought I was losing it.
In important moments though, my thoughts and visions of her would dissolve and I’d be able to work. So I threw myself into it. Only, that just brought me near her more often. I found myself losing chunks of time occasionally. Opening my eyes to find 28 minutes gone, and my fingernails firmly dug into the armrests of my chair.
I was getting very close to making an appointment with a shrink.
Bun one afternoon, sat at my desk watching her, trying to figure out what was happening to me, she suddenly looked up and caught me staring through my open door. I watched her blow me a kiss before slouching down in her chair, hitching up her pencil skirt and spreading her thighs wide.
She sat at a table-style desk, open beneath, so I could see the lace of her panties between her legs. Sitting up uncomfortably, but unable to shift his eyes away, I watched her fingers wrap around her water bottle. Feeling the inexplicable pressure around my cock, I gasped loudly as she slipped her fingers into her panties below the desktop.
She lifted the bottle to her lips and swirled her tongue around the capped tip. I experienced it as if she were kneeling in front of me. She rubbed herself furiously, whispering for me to come take her, slipping her panties off and inserting the tip of that bottle into herself and working it in and out until my cock was about to explode.
It ended as quickly as it began when she was startled by the ring of the phone. She silenced it, before glaring at my fingers gripping the edge of my chair so tightly that my knuckles had gone white. The she slipped into the bathroom.
While she was gone, but I was cemented into my seat, I wrote down exactly what I’d experienced and slipped the page into my jacket pocket before she returned.
It was 11pm that night when I read the page that I found, quite by surprise.
I didn’t remember any of it. Not even writing it.
But my fantasies of her that night were even more vivid than ever before. And when I woke, sweaty and thrashing around on my mattress, still feeling her clenched around my rigid cock, I decided to start writing everything down. Everything I could.
Almost a year passed. Very little was written.
She stood in my doorway with her hair piled into a bun and wearing that blouse that was meant to drape, but clung instead, begging to be ripped from her then used to violently restrain her so that she could be used and pleasured. It mocked me, that fucking blouse.
I glared at her. But she smiled.
“You are a tough shell to crack, Marc.”
Trying to look away, I didn’t trust my ears. Months of visions and dreams had blurred together with moments that couldn’t possibly be real. I had come five times that day already, but hadn’t released a drop of semen. I didn’t want to look at her, but she never gave me a choice.
She sashayed through the door and dropped a sheet of paper on my desk.
“I’m giving my notice.”
I continued to stare, carefully grinding my teeth to prevent myself from speaking. I still couldn’t be sure this was real. Or a trick. I have no idea what would’ve happened if I’d ever let go. And I’m still not clear on the why.
“I hope you’ll provide me with a glowing reference.”
It wasn’t really a request, I felt her attempting to implant the words inside my brain. It was the worst part. Knowing, but not knowing.
I had resorted to communicating with her solely by text or email, working from home as often as possible, and with my office door closed when I was there. It had become my life goal to evade her. To prove to myself that I wasn’t insane.
Or that I was.
“You don’t need to stay two weeks. If this is real, today should be your last day.”
I managed to drag my eyes away from hers to look at the page on my desk. It was a typical letter of resignation. I gripped the edge of the warm wood and waited for her to leave.
But she sniffed, making me look up.
“Why do you hate me? What did I do to make you hate me so much?”
My eyes grew wide as a tear slipped down the crevice between her nose and cheek.
My entire body flooded with the primal need to comfort and soothe her, make the tears stop. Tell her whatever she needed to hear…
But my mind caught the crest of that wave. Just the peak. Where there was still oxygen above it. Before she began inundating me with the visions of my arms wrapped around her, my nose in her soft, vanilla scented hair, my lips capturing hers.
I shook my head, hanging to the thread of belief that I would not and could not fuck her or something devastating would happen. I knew with every fiber of my being that touching her would be the end of me. And who knows what else.
“How can you be so cruel? You were so kind in the beginning, so sweet and funny and–”
I glared at her again, my fingernails digging into the desk.
“I may be cruel, Kat. But if I am, something made me that way.”
It was the first time my voice felt like my own in weeks. And at those words, something broke.
And electrified me.
My thoughts were as clear and bright as they’d ever been. All of my memories returned to me, some of them so shocking, I wish they hadn’t. Her desire to make me take her had devolved her into something almost pitiable. Almost.
My desire for her had not waned, but the talons of it had shifted. I felt my fingers at the edge of the desk and flattened my hands over the top. I began moving my fingertips in small circles as her eyes grew and those beautiful lips parted.
She watched my hands as I felt her nipples beneath them.
Her breath came in shallow bursts as her her own fingers danced across the hem of her skirt.
Realization popped between us and I smiled at her. The fear I’d stomached for months glittered behind her eyes now, like fireworks. Her lips began to move, but no sound escaped.
“Is there something you’d like to say, Katrina?”
I felt the wave of anxiety roll off of her like a cool breeze.
The power of manipulation can be a disgusting thing. But in the right hands, perhaps it could be used for good. My mind filled with Robin of Loxley ideas. Would it work on men or only women, if I used it?
As Katrina kneeled in front of me and began to unbuckle my belt, I looked down into the oceanic eyes that had mesmerized me for so long. I could let her have what she’d wanted so desperately all this time. I could use her as she’d wanted to use me.
“No, no,” I whispered.
And as the last little strands of that incredulous gift made their way from her to me, I took her hand and helped her to her feet.
“There are better ways to use people, Kat.”
With my hand at the small of her back, and my lips against her ear, I told her to go home and do nothing.
“It’s your last day. Enjoy the freedom.”
I chuckled at the light in her eyes and the wrinkle between her brows that I’d never once seen in 12 months.
“I’ll call you, Kat.”
She licked her lips and I simply couldn’t help myself. Power is the best kind of revenge. I pictured her, perched on the arm of the couch, waiting for her cell phone to ring.
That freedom, perhaps, was not liberating at all.