Disclaimer: These characters and this narrative are mine, so there is nothing to disclaim in this here story. Besides, if you are still reading my stuff, you already know the drill - you will need an open mind to read it. If you find something you think needs disclaiming, you are more than welcome to let me know. It won’t change anything, but it may make you feel better. Ugliness will earn you a smack to the back of your head.
Thanks: To my truly awesome Beta Team – Phil, Mac and Jeanne – they do such an incredible job for me story after story because God knows I never make it easy and this one came in right under the wire. Thanks, ya’ll... this would have been much more difficult process without your efforts. You guys ROCK!
Author’s Notes: I started this in April when I needed a break from Angel and it blossomed and morphed until it became a Halloween story of sorts... just in time for the Annual invitational. Thanks to the Boss for inviting me to play again!
The Storyteller’s Cardinal Rule is in effect.
Made For You
The house was small, not quite a hovel but only just. It was austere to the point of being bleak, and that was only exacerbated by the yelling that could be heard coming from the front room. In the bed, a small figure huddled beneath the thin covers, as much for warmth as to hide from the furious sounds emanating from the other room through lightweight walls.
A character walked out of a dark corner and tucked a thick, warm blanket over the bed, then patiently waited for the individual in the bed to cease their shivering and venture out from beneath the darkness in which it had been hidden.
A dark head emerged first, followed by cautious blue eyes that tracked slowly around the room until they landed on the person standing patiently at the end of the bed. The eyes widened almost comically, and the full, red baby lips couldn’t contain the gasp of surprise.
“Who are you?” demanded a small, childish voice. “What are you doing in my room?” The figure smiled and the child gasped again... this time in delight. “You look like an angel.”
The being laughed, and the sound was like music to the child’s ears. “I am, Zane. My name is Urim, but you can just call me U; that’s easy to remember, right?” Zane nodded, enthralled that such a beautiful creature was talking to her. “May I sit?” Urim asked, and Zane nodded again, charmed beyond words. Urim smiled and took a seat, looking at Zane as she studied him carefully.
“If you’re really an angel,” she asked guilelessly, “where’s your wings?”
Urim chuckled again and patted her hand. “I put them away because there isn’t a lot of room for them in here – would you like to see them?”
“Oh yes, please,” Zane responded with enthusiasm, and Urim nodded and offered her a smile.
“Very well,” he said and stood, backing up to give himself room enough to spread his wings. Then he extended his wings and watched her face light up. Urim extended his hand, and Zane took it without hesitation, letting him guide her movement until she was touching the soft feathers that made up a majority of the wing. She gazed at him in astonishment.
“Wow!” she finally commented. “You really are an angel.”
“I really am,” he assured her with a gentle smile. He saw her shiver and took her hand, leading her back to the bed and tucking her in before taking a seat beside her once more. When she was settled, Urim looked at Zane seriously and she held his eyes with hers, sensing the seriousness of his demeanor.
“Zane, I have a question for you, and I want you to think about your answer before you speak, okay?”
“’Kay!” she agreed as firmly as a five-year-old could.
“Good,” Urim replied with an approving nod of his head. “Now, if I told you I could take you away from all this,” motioning around the room, “and make you rich and famous and successful, what would you say? Would you like that?” Zane nodded vigorously and Urim gave her a beneficent smile. “What if it came at a price, Zane? Would you be willing to give up love so you would never be cold or hungry again?” Zane hesitated this time – sometimes her mommy told her she loved her, but then there was all the yelling and the hitting that came between those times. Urim was patient – this was too important to rush, and it had to be Zane’s choice... done of her own free will.
After a time, Zane looked at Urim and nodded. “Don’t let them hit me anymore,” she whispered.
“I won’t, Zane,” he vowed. “When you wake up tomorrow, everything will be new and different, and I promise, you will never know cold or hunger or the sting of your mother’s hand again, all right?” Urim smiled and Zane smiled in reflex. He rose from the bed, pulling the thick blanket up to her chin and smoothing her hair back tenderly. “Go to sleep, Zane. Everything will be different in the morning, and I’ll be here to help guide you through it, all right?”
“Goodnight, U,” Zane mumbled as she dropped off to sleep.
“Goodnight, Zane,” he replied, allowing his smile to become sadistic and cruel. Stage one was off to a smashing start.
Part The First
The conflagration was massive, flames reaching high into the night sky and lighting the neighborhood better than the sun itself. The fire was burning hot and fast and by the time the fire department arrived, much of the house engulfed in flames. Still, they had a duty, and while some set up the trucks and hydrants and started running hoses and water, a small contingent geared up to check inside.
Within moments they were soaked down and moving into the mouth of hell, and their comrades aimed the spray to keep the fire from spreading. A crowd had gathered, and it was then that the firefighters learned that there were two, possibly three, victims in the house, and with this in mind, they went searching inch by inch as quickly as they could.
They found two adult bodies in what was presumed to have been the living room. Then they got word of the presence of a child and they pressed on with heightened urgency. Several minutes later, a female firefighter stepped from the house with a lumpy, scorched blanket in her arms. When she was well clear of the house, she pushed the blanket back to reveal Zane’s smoke-smudged features. Zane looked around carefully – then her eyes lit on a familiar figure.
“U!!” she screamed and struggled to get down. The firefighter looked around to find a tall, broad shouldered man making his way towards them. “U!!” Zane yelled again, and the woman headed in his direction. “U!!” Zane said again when they were close enough for her to reach for him and he opened his arms as a matter of course.
“Zane! Oh, thank heaven you’re all right!! When I heard....”
The firefighter looked between them. “I take it you know one another.”
“My niece,” Urim replied without missing a beat, keeping the blanket wrapped protectively around Zane’s small body as he accepted her from the woman. “Thank you so much, ma’am. I don’t know what I would have done if something had happened to this precious little girl. My sister and I didn’t see eye to eye on a lot of things, but we agreed Zane is pretty special.”
The firefighter smiled. “Well, I can see Zane is in good hands, so I’d better get back to work,” gesturing to the blaze that was still burning hot and high. “You may want to take her over to the ambulance and get her checked over before you leave, and I’m sure they can give you a blanket that won’t smell like smoke.” She looked at Zane. “It was nice to meet you, Zane.”
“Thank you, lady,” Zane offered with a smile. The woman tapped her on the nose, then turned and went back to helping put out the flames. Urim looked at Zane.
“Are you all right, Little One?” he asked gently.
“I was scared, U,” Zane whispered softly.
“I know you were, Sweetheart, but that part of your life is behind you now. Remember what we talked about earlier? No more cold or hunger or getting hit... ever again.”
“Good,” she agreed emphatically, tucking her head into his neck.
“C’mon – let Uncle U take you over to be checked out by the nice paramedics and make sure everything is okay. Then we can go to my house, all right?”
“I can stay with you?”
Urim smiled soothingly. “Of course. You can live with me from now on if you’d like, Zane.”
“I’d like that, Uncle U.”
Zane settled into life with Urim as though she had always lived with him. Her room was exactly what a five-year-old girl would love – lavender with thick, warm blankets and pretty curtains and a soft, clean bed covered with plush snugglies. Every possible toy or doll she could want or imagine occupied the shelves and there were games and movies at her disposal as well. It didn’t take Zane long to forget she had ever lived anywhere other than with Urim.
Years passed, and as Urim had promised, Zane found success and fame and fortune. Not long after she came to live with him, she was ‘discovered’ and was put into commercials and modeling, then moved into television. From there, Zane went into movies, gaining acclaim and popularity wherever she went. And always in the background, Urim hovered... guiding, shaping, molding.
There was no bad press to be found – Urim saw to it that there was nothing bad to report. Zane was happy and successful... and as she got older, her successes and happiness seemed to spill over into her personal life. She was always smiling when she was out with her various escorts, even though she never seemed to form a lasting relationship with anyone beyond friendship.
And so things went until Zane’s eighteenth birthday, when she and Urim sat down together to discuss her life thus far.
“Are you happy, Zane?” Urim asked kindly as they were seated at the best table in the most renowned restaurant in the city. She gazed at him, giving him the smile she was famous for and hearing the cameras click as quickly as they could in the hopes of getting a money shot. Zane and Urim ignored them, having both lived with the paparazzi for the past thirteen years.
“You know I am, Uncle U,” chuckling when he laughed aloud at the title.
“I think you can probably call me Urim now, my dear.”
“Yes, but why? You’ll always be Uncle U to me, Urim.” He laughed again and spread his hands in surrender.
“As you wish, Zane.” He cleared his throat. “So I have delivered everything I promised you all those years ago then?”
Zane’s brow furrowed. “Yes, of course you have, U. Why? Are you leaving now that I’m legal?”
“Do you want me to?”
“NO!! Of course not!” lowering her voice when she realized they were attracting unwanted attention. “Why would you think that? You’re my family, U.”
“I think of you as my own, Zane... you know that. But that doesn’t change the fact that you are now legal and solely your own responsibility. If you’d like me to continue to manage and direct your career – and your life, to some extent – then you’re going to have to sign a sheaf of papers that will allow me to do so.”
“Of course, Uncle U. You give me whatever papers need signing and I’ll put my signature on them.”
“I trust you, U. I’m sure.”
Urim nodded. “We’ll take care of them when we get home.”
Zane looked at the stack of papers, then back at Urim. “You do realize I’m liable to die from a paper cut here, right?”
Urim smiled and shook his head. “There really aren’t that many to sign, and I have to sign the same ones you do.”
“Fine,” Zane agreed with a longsuffering sigh, “but I want all my assets to go to the Firefighter’s Charity if I bleed to death from a paper cut.”
Urim rolled his eyes, but chuckled good-naturedly. “I’ll make a deal with you, Zane – if you cut yourself, I’ll cut myself and we can sign with bloody thumbprints. We can start a new trend.”
Zane glared at Urim balefully, and he struggled not to laugh aloud. It didn’t take long before Zane snorted; then Urim snorted; then they laughed together and took up their pens to sign the multitude of papers it was deemed necessary to keep everything legal between them.
“I cannot believe I cut myself on the last damn document,” Zane groused. “I was almost home free.”
“At least you didn’t have to stick yourself with a knife point,” Urim complained genially. “My thumb is going to be sore for days.”
“Is the lawyer going to complain about that – the bloody thumbprints, I mean? I didn’t really expect....”
“I promised you I would, Zane, and I have never not kept a promise to you. Besides, what’s he going to say? For all we know that will make things more binding than just a plain signature would.”
“Oh God... I hope not. He might take to asking for them on everything.”
Urim grimaced. “That would be unpleasant.” He turned to smile at Zane. “Are you sure there isn’t somewhere else you’d rather be tonight?”
Zane shook her head. “The girls and I are leaving for Europe in two days. I wanted to have a little time with you first. What you’ve done for me....”
“Zane, anything I’ve done for you, I’ve done for myself as well. Having you in my life has been nothing short of magnificent. I’m proud to be part of your life.”
“Me too, Uncle U.”
Urim watched her go upstairs to her boudoir, waving when she turned to him before disappearing around the corner. His grin was that of a satisfied snake. Stage two was complete.
Part The Second
Europe was enlightening for Zane... and liberating as well. Everything was so different from what she had known previously in her life. Gone was the structure and the rules and the stability Urim had always provided for her. Instead, she found society and attitudes to be much more relaxed and casual, and it made her go a little crazy at first.
She tried alcohol – that was an enormous amount of fun right up until she woke up from her first major hangover, and Zane decided there was no amount of fun worth that sort of outcome. She spent two days in her room, alternating between spending time in front of the porcelain goddess hurling her guts and laying in the bed wrapped around a pillow praying to die.
Then she discovered drugs – nothing hard, so she thought... just a little laced marijuana. And she decided almost immediately she didn’t like being dizzy. And no high was worth the crash that followed.
Then Zane found sex – sex with men; sex with women; sex with multiple partners. Finally, she’d found something she could enjoy with no compunctions and no regrettable repercussions. After all, everyone understood the rules – it was just pleasure... a good time – a way to feel good without puking or crashing or commitments.
So Zane loved her time in Europe – not only for the beautiful sights and interesting places she saw, but also for the freedom it afforded her and the beautiful people she fucked. Because she knew when she returned home, she would have to be much more discreet. But here – no one cared, and she reveled in the wealth of opportunities afforded her.
After several months, Zane and her friends came home from Europe, and Urim picked her up from the airport. “Uncle U?” she asked when she spotted him in the back of the car that had been sent to pick her up.
“Zane, my dear – how was Europe?”
Her grin was its own answer, but she slid into the vehicle and waited for the door to close before she deigned to answer him verbally. “Europe was fantastic, Uncle. I could very easily live there.”
“Only if you learn to be much more discreet,” Urim replied. Zane blanched.
“Zane, I fully expected you to stretch your wings a little – you are an adult, after all. And you have been sheltered for much of your young life. But you must learn to be a little more discretionary in your choice of partners. Personally I don’t care if you sleep with men, women or a three-headed goat.” He paused. “Okay, the three-headed goat would bother me on a number of levels, but that’s not the point. The point is that it’s perfectly okay to be someone who enjoys sex, and as far as I’m concerned it’s perfectly okay to enjoy multiple partners in multiple positions with multiple implements.”
“Uncle U!!” Zane’s face flushed red with embarrassment. Urim smirked.
“Zane, if you’re old enough to do it, then you’re old enough to discuss it like a rational adult human being.”
“How did you know...?”
“My dear, I have eyes and ears everywhere. I hear things even when I’m not trying to. And that is my point. As relaxed as the European attitude is about sex, the American attitude isn’t even close to catching up. And since you live here and your career is your image.... Do you see where I’m going with this?” Zane glared.
“That sucks. I like sex!”
Urim laughed. “I’m not telling you to give it up. I’m just saying to be a little more careful in choosing potential partners.” He cleared his throat. “There is a service network for people like you to utilize that is safe.”
Zane narrowed her eyes. “What’d you mean... people like me?”
“Famous people,” Urim replied drolly. “People who like unstructured sex, but because of their image or their job or their *other* commitments, can’t afford to have those things known about them.”
“And how do you know about them?”
Urim smiled benevolently. “With the circles we travel in Zane? I’ve known about these networks for years. I just never had the need to mention it before now.”
“And how do I become part of this... network?”
“You tell me what you want and when you want it. Then I just have to make a phone call. When you find someone that suits you, then you’ll be able to make your own arrangements from there.”
Zane nodded, but she didn’t speak for a long time. When she did, her conversation was so far afield of their previous discussion that Urim took several minutes to catch up.
“Excuse me? Would you mind repeating that? I think I missed something in translation.”
“Considering we’re both speaking English here, I’m not sure how that happened,” Zane grumbled. “What I said was – I want to go to college.”
Urim blinked. It was an unexpected request and it took him by surprise. Still, he rallied to the idea as quickly as he could and nodded his head approvingly. “Very well. Do you know where you’d like to go or what you’d like to study?”
Zane shook her head. “Not really. I’d just like a chance to try it.”
Urim bit his lip and considered. “Well, we can’t get you in to the current fall semester – classes have already started and you start filming your next movie in four days.” He brought his fingers to his lips and blew out a breath thoughtfully. “Would you like to try for something in the following semester or wait until the fall semester rolls around again and start school when most freshmen do? We could probably schedule your appearances around a school schedule if we need to and that would still leave your summer free for other projects.”
“I think I’d like that... the second option, I mean.”
Urim nodded slowly. “I’ll do some checking, but you need to do the same. Try to get some idea about what you’d like to study towards. You don’t have to commit to anything right now, but it would be good for you to know your options.”
“Thanks, U. I’ll think about the other too.”
“You do that, Zane.”
Deciding on a course of study hadn’t been that difficult once she started researching the options available to her. Zane had no desire to study something she was already supremely successful in, which negated most of the arts. She did choose creative writing as a minor – it was the one art she felt she could accomplish with success that she hadn’t actually attempted. Besides, this way she could write her own material if she took a notion.
For her major, Zane chose applied sciences. It was so different from everything else in her life, and there was a restful beauty in the order she found in it.
Her sex partners were chosen with the same care and deliberation – a well-hung, strapping young man for the times she craved penetration and a slightly older woman when she wanted more intimacy - both willing to indulge her penchant for multiple partners with one another and both sensitive to her need for discretion. And both eager to expand her horizons and broaden her experience... something she was quite zealous about in her desires.
Zane found college to be interesting and challenging, and it took up much more of her time than she had anticipated. Still, she enjoyed it – and it was nice to be with other people her age, especially once they got past her notoriety. Soon, she was just one of the many, and she discovered she appreciated the anonymity in a way she hadn’t expected to. It was particularly gratifying to make friends of her own choosing – people whom she found interesting on their own merit, and not just because they were people to be seen with.
And so four years passed with Zane making new friends, earning her degree and exploring and learning more about her sexuality. It came as very little surprise to her when she realized she was infinitely more attracted to sex with her female lover than she was to her male one. Although her male lover was gentle or forceful by turn, depending on Zane’s need, her female lover spent hours simply holding her; hours more teaching her... coaching her on the importance of touch and the skill of cunnilingus and penetration. She showed her the art of having sex with another person, focusing on the best and most satisfying ways to pleasure a woman - as well as intimacy in all its forms. And when graduation time came, the older woman set Zane down and offered her own goodbye.
“But why?” Zane asked plaintively. “We’re good together.”
“We are,” the woman agreed. “But you’re young, Zane,” cupping her face gently. “So young; your life is really just beginning. It’s time for you to go out and live – time for you to find the love that will make you complete.”
“I don’t need love; I have you.”
The older woman sucked in a pained breath. She felt more for Zane than she should for a customer, hence one reason she was calling it quits, because she knew without a doubt that Zane certainly didn’t feel the same. “You say that now, Zane, but the day will come - maybe sooner, maybe later, but it will come and you’ll want love in your life.”
“I still don’t see why that means we have to stop seeing one another... especially right now.” Zane huffed. “I like sex with you!”
The older woman chuckled sadly. “I like sex with you too, Zane. You’re one of my most passionate patrons, but you are still just a customer,” feeling Zane’s gasp. “Wouldn’t you like to be more than a customer? Wouldn’t you like to have more than just sex with someone?” Zane didn’t answer and the older woman sighed. “I’ll still come if you call me, Zane – you’re one of my best clients, and I’ll miss you when you do fall in love and finally share your bed with the woman of your dreams. But I think in your best interests, we should cool things off between us.”
“I think you’re crazy,” Zane replied with a hint of heat in her tone, “but I won’t force you. There’s no point in you being here if you don’t want to be.”
“Oh, Zane... you have no idea just how much I want.”
“Take me to bed then, lover. Show me.” Then there were no more words between them.
Time marched on and over the next few years, Zane was so busy she practically met herself coming and going. Urim kept an eye on her of course, always at the periphery of her life except on the rare occasions when she invited him into her inner circle. It wasn’t that she was pushing him out of her life; it was more that her life was so hectic and demanding that she barely had time to breathe. Zane sporadically utilized the services of the network of paid escorts when she needed some stress relief, but only rarely did she see her teacher, because sometimes it was a little awkward between them – and Zane had no desire for her rare venture back into the world of what for her was strictly pleasure to be hampered by any sense of discomfiture.
Otherwise, success continued to roll her way as though she had the golden touch. Every project she attempted was hailed as a triumph, and as her twenty-fifth birthday approached she had finally decided to take a little time away from the spotlight and focus on her writing. She was confident she had a story to tell if she could just get the time to actually sit down and write it.
With that in mind, she disappeared from public life and found herself setting up house at a secluded resort. And that is when Zane first met Valeria.
Part The Third
Valeria was part of the household staff in the resort Zane had chosen for her sabbatical, and Zane was pleasantly charmed... enough to ask that Valeria be assigned exclusively to her. While it was not possible for Valeria to maintain only Zane’s rooms exclusively, it was quite feasible to ensure that no other staff member was allowed within the confines of Zane’s living space. So it was arranged that Valeria became the sole caretaker of Zane’s rooms.
For the first few days, Zane merely observed Valeria as she worked, not attempting to engage her in conversation beyond a greeting. After a few days of that, Zane tried to involve Valeria in discussion, but even easy topics like the weather required more effort than Zane was comfortable with. Valeria tried, but it was almost as though she was unused to any sort of human interaction.
So Zane’s focus returned to her writing and other than welcoming Valeria every morning and spending a moment or two in idle chitchat with her, Valeria was left alone to do her work in peace. When she was finished, she would always inquire if Zane desired anything else, and when the response was negative, she would leave to go to her next assignment.
Thus went their interactions during the first three weeks of Zane’s stay. Then things got... interesting.
Urim knew where Zane was by necessity – he needed to be able to reach her in case of an emergency. So when he recognized the number that flashed across his screen, he picked up the phone immediately, thinking something dire must be wrong.
“Zane, my dear... is everything all right?”
Zane chuckled. “Everything’s fine, Uncle U. I just thought I’d let you know everything is going well.”
“I see,” he commented speculatively. “Have you met anyone of interest in your reclusiveness or have you been entirely focused on your writing?”
“I’ve met a few people, but most of my concentration has been on my writing. We’ll see if anything actually comes of it.”
“Have you so little faith, Zane... even after all the years and successes you’ve celebrated?”
“Mostly because of that, Uncle. The odds are on my eventually screwing the pooch, so to speak. I’d really rather not have it be in this particular venture.”
“It means so much to you then?”
“Yes. This is the most personal thing I’ve ever done.”
“Well then... perhaps we should take steps to ensure its success. Leave things to me, my dear. I’m sure we can make this extraordinary for you.”
“Maybe,” Zane commented unenthusiastically, but before Urim could inquire further, Zane changed the subject on him. “Uncle, do you know if the network has people available here? I’d rather not bring my regulars into this place, but I find myself in need of some stress relief.”
Urim rolled his eyes, glad Zane could not see his initial reaction. It grated that so much of her time and energy seemed to be dedicated to such carnal pursuits. And he was so close to claiming his final right to her that this just jumped on his last nerve. Still, the truth was she had quite a healthy libido – he was actually surprised this particular request had been so long in coming. So Urim modulated his tone when he replied.
“I’ll make some phone calls, my dear. Is there anything... *particular*... you covet?”
Zane shrugged. “A woman my age... pretty. Someone who is open-minded enough to play.”
Urim shook his head and cleared his throat. “All right, Zane; I’ll see what I can do. When do you want her?”
“As soon as possible. And see if you can get someone who’d be willing to stay if things work out between us.”
“I’ll give you a call back shortly then.”
“Thank you, Uncle.”
It was much later that night when a knock sounded on Zane’s door. Urim had called to let her know that someone would be by in the evening for her decision, but otherwise he hadn’t offered any details about her newest sex partner. She removed the glasses she wore and set her laptop aside, then rose from the chaise she’d been lounging in to answer the door. When she looked in the peephole, she hesitated, not expecting what she was seeing on the other side. It was only when she saw the arm rise to knock again that she opened the door to prevent the action. Then she leaned on the doorjamb and cocked an eyebrow in query. She looked around slowly, noting the absence of a housekeeping cart, then turned back to the woman who stood in front of her.
“Val? Is something wrong?”
“No, Miss,” said demurely with her eyes on the ground in a subservient position. “I was sent by the Agency. I am your companion for the evening.”
Now the second brow shot into Zane’s hairline and her mouth dropped just enough to convey her shock. “Excuse me?”
This time Valeria looked up, green eyes meeting blue squarely for the first time, and the lust and sex that oozed from the very pores of Valeria’s being set a fire burning deep in Zane’s belly. “I think we should move this discussion inside, Zane, unless you’d like to share all of your proclivities with your neighbors.”
The change in Valeria’s demeanor was intoxicating, and Zane threaded her hands gently into the long, blonde hair that Valeria had left loose and tugged Valeria to her. “I don’t care about the neighbors or their interests in my sexual pursuits. However, what I have in mind is not for public consumption, so....” Zane brought their lips together and was thrilled when she was met passion for passion by Valeria’s entire being. She walked backwards, dragging them inside and smiling when Valeria kicked the door shut behind them without ever breaking the kiss.
“How shall we do this, hmm?” her voice breathless and thread with need.
“I am yours to command, Zane,” Valeria’s voice low and sultry. “You’re the client – tell me your desires and I’ll make your dreams come true.”
And Valeria hadn’t lied – she had done everything Zane had asked and more that she had never imagined. But when Zane woke up mid-morning, Valeria the seductress was gone; she had been replaced by Valeria the domestic.
Once more their conversation was reduced to platitudes and inane chatter, and Zane wondered what had happened to the fiery, passionate woman who had fucked her until she begged for mercy the night before. Nothing she said got the response she was looking for, and she knew better than to cross the line. Valeria wasn’t on Zane’s time now and she had no right to touch.
So a very frustrated Zane watched as Valeria took care of her housekeeping chores. Then before she left, Valeria turned to Zane with a very wicked twinkle in her eyes and inquired, “Is there anything else you desire, Miss?”
Zane growled and Valeria’s lip quirked though she didn’t actually twitch enough to call it a smirk... much less a smile. “Not at the moment, thank you. Although this evening....”
“You know how to reach me, Zane,” the voice once more filled with lust. But before Zane could reply, Valeria was out the door. Zane immediately snatched up her cell and dialed a number from memory, not even offering a hello when it was answered.
“I don’t care what it takes – you get her assigned to me exclusively for the remainder of my stay.” Then she disconnected the call and sat back to ponder all the things she and Valeria still had left to try. It was turning out to be a fabulous retreat.
And somewhere, some distance from where Zane sat assessing this new turn of events, Urim cackled in sheer, evil delight. Obviously he had underestimated Zane’s cravings – this would keep her off balanced until it was too late. Things were playing out much better than he had anticipated. This was going to be one for the history books.
Part The Fourth
That night when Valeria arrived, Zane was prepared, and before they got down to business, Zane decided they needed to be clear about a number of things. So her address of Valeria at the door was curt, dragging her inside before Valeria could even speak. At the middle of the room, Zane loosened her clasp and turned towards the glass doors that led to the balcony.
“Did I miss something?” Valeria queried brusquely, rubbing her wrist while glaring at Zane’s petulant profile. “I thought we were both supposed to be aware of the game and its rules before we started.”
Zane blinked, suddenly realizing how her actions could be misinterpreted. She reached for Valeria’s hands, scowling when Valeria moved them from her reach. “Val, stop. We’re not playing a game; I’m trying to see what I did.”
“Nothing much,” Valeria replied, holding out her wrist so Zane could see the faint red marks she’d left. “You startled me mostly, and I don’t like that.” A beat. “Now why did you feel the need to drag me in here and then ignore me?”
“I thought we should talk – settle things between us before we move on to the fun portion of the evening.”
“What’s to settle, Zane? You’re the client – you tell me what you want and I make it happen. Simple, clean... no muss, no fuss.”
Zane sighed and scratched the back of her neck awkwardly. It had been a long time since she’d invited anyone new into her bedroom, and she’d forgotten how much she hated this part of the sex-for-hire network. On the other hand, Valeria had a point – they both knew what was expected of them in their roles here... it wasn’t like they were part of the dating scene. Zane winced, grateful for small blessings – that could easily turn into a nightmare. Still, Zane did have expectations and aspirations, and it was up to her to articulate them for Valeria’s benefit.
“Did the Agency tell you what I wanted?”
“Only that you were looking for someone open-minded and willing to play. And since things went so well last evening, as of tonight I was to be available to you exclusively for the duration of your stay.”
“Do you understand what that means?”
“Do I look stupid, Zane?” Valeria snapped. “It means that every evening you desire my company, I will be here for your enjoyment, and the evenings you don’t, I will still not be available for anyone else’s use.”
Zane recoiled at Valeria’s matter-of-fact statement. She’d never had one of her partners describe herself so impersonally... as though she was merely a piece of equipment to be utilized on someone else’s whim. Zane took a deep breath. “Not exactly,” she answered calmly. “You’re correct about not being available to others while I’m here; what it really means is that you will be here every night regardless, as well as during the day if I require it.”
“I have a day job, Zane, or did you forget that fact?”
“Why do you?”
“Why do you have a day job? Val, you’re an exceptional network agent,” refusing to call it anything else. “Why do you do such menial labor during the day?”
Zane had never known green eyes could burn someone to cinders, but she felt the heat of Valeria’s defiance incinerate the very marrow of her bones. She started to rescind the question, but Valeria beat her to the punch.
“I do that menial labor,” Valeria growled through clenched teeth, “because it is honest, steady work that pays the bills.”
“Okay,” Zane agreed reasonably. “So why do you do this?” motioning between them.
“That’s none of your business.”
Zane was taken aback by the vehemence in Valeria’s tone, and she decided to let it go in favor of taking things down a notch. Later, she would pursue the answers she sought with single-minded relentlessness. “All right,” she agreed affably. “How long does your day work take?”
“I am scheduled to work eight hours every day.”
“That won’t work,” Zane commented. “I’ll take care of it in the morning. Meanwhile,” cutting Valeria off before she could protest, “I would like us to be on relatively even footing when it comes to having sex. If there is something you enjoy or something you hate, tell me. I like trying new things and I want you to get pleasure out of this arrangement as well. There’s no point in doing anything if there isn’t some enjoyment for both of us.”
“Are you serious?”
“Do I look like I’m joking? What kind of question is that??”
“An honest one – you’re the first client I’ve ever had to ever talk this way... consider my needs or desires.”
“That’s just how I roll, baby. My only request is that you no longer refer to me as a client.”
Valeria shrugged. “I don’t see a problem with that. Is there something else you prefer?”
“Yeah... my name. Failing that, it will depend on the game we’re playing or where we happen to be. We’ll worry about it when the time comes.”
“All right, Zane. What would you like to do tonight?” For answer, Zane captured Valeria’s lips passionately, pulling her by the hips until they were flush against one another. She reached for the zipper on Valeria’s dress and slid it down slowly. When the dress was pooled around Valeria’s feet and she stood naked against Zane’s gaze, Zane licked her lips and smiled rakishly.
“I figured we could start here,” Zane replied, stroking her fingers across Valeria’s lips and down the side of her neck, “and kind of see where we end up,” letting her touch trail across Valeria’s curves until she reached the juncture between her legs.
Valeria sucked in a breath and cleared her throat awkwardly before she was able to speak. “I approve of your plan, Mistress, but aren’t you just slightly overdressed?” gesturing to Zane’s fully clothed body. “How can I service you if I cannot reach the areas of your body that crave my touch?”
Zane’s nostrils had flared at Valeria’s use of a title, and the reminder that she wanted Valeria’s lips and fingers stroking her flesh made her clothing chafe against her skin. “I’m sure you’ll find a way, my slave.” Then she pulled Valeria back to her lips and began fondling her with intent. That ended the verbal discussion for a very long while.
Despite Valeria’s protestations, Zane arranged to have Valeria removed from the housekeeping rotation and assigned to her on a round-the-clock basis. Zane was more than a little surprised at how easy it was to arrange, especially given the fight she’d been given when she’d demanded Valeria be assigned exclusively as her housekeeper. She chanced to wonder if Urim had once again interceded, then decided she didn’t really care as long as Valeria was assigned to her on a permanent basis for the remainder of her stay.
The first day or two was awkward – even a healthy sexual appetite didn’t make it physically possible to have sex twenty-four seven and Valeria was still stewing about the machinations Zane had instigated on her behalf. Besides, Zane did have a pressing need to work on her book, and slowly she drew Valeria into taking an interest in what she was doing. So gradually they started learning about the people behind the sex and the games, and they began to lay a solid foundation of friendship.
Into the midst of all this, Urim arrived, and once again the world as Zane knew it changed.