The Big O - Nelle L'Amour

I studied the spreadsheet on my desk. The numbers for last quarter’s earnings. They sucked. We were operating in the red and facing bankruptcy. If my dick was the line of my P&L chart, it would look like it fell off a cliff. That’s how bad things were. For decades, Donut King had been the number one breakfast stop in the country, but year after year our market share had declined. Numerous locations had shut down. What the hell was wrong with our yummy donuts and coffee? Trust me, they were delicious. Customers loved them. But with little advertising, companies like Starbeans and Coffee Depot had taken over our business. I couldn’t even remember the names of their coffees or breakfast entries, let alone how to pronounce or spell them. A Venti Caramel Macchiato? What the hell was that? And what language were we talking? Had suddenly everyone in America become seasoned sophisticates and taken a Berlitz course? A familiar caustic voice cut into my disturbing thoughts.

“Owen, you’re missing the focus group.”

“Huh?” I looked up from the depressing data and met the steely eyes of our young marketing director, Mallory Clint. While only in her mid twenties, the mousy-haired Harvard MBA looked much older in her navy pinstriped pantsuit and horn-rimmed glasses. The daughter of financier Burton Clint, whose hedge fund was keeping us afloat, she walked around as if she owned me. She thought that her father’s clout entitled her to call me by my first name while everyone else in the company addressed me as Mr. King. It pissed me off, but I had to treat her carefully. What made me even more on edge was that I sensed that she wanted more than a professional relationship with me. Trust me, I had no interest in fucking her. She wasn’t for me. And lately, with business in the toilet, fucking anyone was the last thing on my mind. This was the longest dry spell I’d ever endured. I’m talking years.

“Sir, this is very important. It’s giving us consumer insights.”

I appreciated that she for once called me sir. I demanded and deserved respect. I was, in fact, known to millions from TV commercials as the eponymous “Donut King,” a title I inherited from my late father who started the chain. To be truthful, they should have called me “Your Majesty,” “Your Royal Highness.” or at least, “My Lord.” But at this point, it was moot. Given our latest sales numbers, I was about to fall off my throne.

I hated research. Fuck this shit. I was the kind of guy who went by my gut instincts. Nothing in my life was fifty shades of gray. Everything was black or white. I want it or I don’t. I like it or I don’t. Even my love life was like that. Or should I say lack of one. I’d never found a woman to love. Someone who I’d fallen head over heels for. Sure I was one of Southern California’s most eligible bachelors with the fortune I’d amassed from my donut empire, but that didn’t help things in the love department. I obviously had very particular taste when it came to women. When the right one came along, I was positive I’d know it.

I followed Miss Know-It-All Clint, who’d convinced me to do the group, to the research facility at the end of the hall and took a seat on the couch next to her upon entering. A platter of donuts and a tin of coffee were spread out on a credenza behind me. I peered through the one-way mirror that spanned the length of the room. The group was already in progress.

Eleven motley women of various ages and ethnicities sat around a table. But one respondent, in particular, immediately captured my attention. Holy shit! She was gorgeous. Big, blond, and beautiful. I swear I felt the temperature in the room rise twenty degrees. And that’s not all that was rising. I loosened my tie. For some reason, she turned her head so she was facing me. I got a better look at her stunning face. Porcelain skin with just a sprinkle of freckles on her rosy cheeks…frosted rosebud lips…and a button nose. I swear I could feel her big chocolate brown eyes burn a hole in me right through the one-way mirror. My skin heated up, the flesh near my groin kindling. Sweat clustered beneath my shirt and my heart palpitated. I was having a hot flash.

I kept my eyes on her