Slave to Love - Julie A. Richman

I am a slave. Seriously, I am. My shackles may not be what you’re envisioning, as unfortunately, they are not crafted from leather with a hot, sexy dominant on the other end, flogger in hand. But they are trendy and cool and golden. Yes, my handcuffs are golden and they come with stock options, a 401(k), oodles of frequent flyer miles and hotel points and an Admiral’s Club membership at the airport. I wear my handcuffs 24/7.

And I have no freaking idea where the key is.

Eight-twenty A.M. and I already need an effing shower. Ugh. Running late for an eight-thirty meeting. I thought a cab ride would be the answer and certainly cooler and quicker than walking, or God forbid, taking the dreaded subway on a sweltering Manhattan morning. But no. I emerge from the cab, with my now translucent white silk blouse pretending it’s a soggy second skin gearing up for our fabulous win in today’s “Who’s Got the Perkiest Nipples” contest. Shoot me. Just shoot me.

As I slide sideways into an elevator, the doors already half closed, I have the distinct honor of joining two techy nerd boys returning from their eight-fifteen A.M. smoke. Lucky me. The unkempt duo reek of cigarettes, yet I can’t decide which is worse, that, or the stench of their general shoddy hygiene and filthy jeans. Nerd Boy #1 is enjoying my transparent, wet tank blouse and my not-shy nipples. I catch him and he pretends to look at my necklace, a gold mermaid, just grazing my cleavage.

The door opens on my floor. Eight twenty-six. I’m not late yet. On my way out of the elevator, I lean over and whisper to Nerd Boy #1, “Great necklace, isn’t it. Would be better if it were pearl.”

I hear him choke as I exit. Schwing.

Tanisha looks up at me from the receptionist’s station and gives me the face. I have seen that face on many an occasion as her mood is more often surly than not. Wordlessly, she points one impossibly long coral clawed nail in the direction of the conference room, and in my head I can hear her saying, “Girl, you’d better get your ass in there, now!”

Fuck, I need coffee, is my last thought before I fling open the door to the lion’s den.

The long conference table is full, with the exception of two seats. His and mine.

“Could your skirts get any shorter and your heels any higher? How do you walk in those things?” The whine of her voice is like nails on a chalkboard, and without my first cup of coffee, not going totally postal on her is a true attestation to my superior self-control.

“God didn’t give me these legs to wear pants and ugly shoes,” I retort, smiling sweetly at her. Bitch.

He enters behind me, “Nice to see everyone made it on time.” Walking to the head of the table with the swagger of a former athlete, he sets down his iPad and coffee and unbuttons his rich navy suit jacket.

New York City men in suits. There is just nothing finer. And if he’s handsome, smart and arrogant – I’m up the creek without a paddle. And I work for one. A very married one. But that doesn’t make him any less attractive.

It’s impossible not to smile when looking upon such a perfect specimen of a man. Kemp McCoy. C’mon, even the name. You just know the guy was bred to be the quarterback or team captain of something.

I laugh at my friends with all their fictional alpha-males in their books. I’ve been working for the ultimate alpha for years and I’ve watched him get more and more dominant, and domineering, as he’s climbed the corporate ladder. He scares the crap out of most people. But I’m not most people. I’m one of the few in his inner circle, and I tell it to him just the way it is. Which is why I think he looks at me like I’m one of the boys. Great tits, fine legs and all.

We’re all there in the conference room on this hot, sweaty morning in June, having arrived from different places throughout the country. All his direct reports. Me, the bitch who made the remark about my skirt, my counterpart/enemy, Cuntessa. Okay, she really does have a name. It’s Susan. Susan Smith. Seriously, I kid you not. How boring is that? Right? Our marketing guy, Scott, finance dude, Tad, ops geek, Ray (Ray’s cool and way fun to get trashed with), production