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In His Silks – Chapter Two

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Chapter Two

Alexander tossed and turned half the night. He’d thought of her the entire way home, all through dinner, and had scarcely been able to concentrate on the movie he’d thrown on while he perused his schedule for the rest of the week. Elizabeth Bennett had captured his interest. The way she’d submitted to him, almost immediately, had made his heart quicken and his cock harden uncomfortably. This woman recognized the Dom within him, but unlike some of the women he’d played with in the past, there was a quiet strength to her. She had a backbone that had shown through her submission. She could and would stand up for herself—at least outside the bedroom. She’d tried when they’d sacked her—or so she’d said. He’d bet a chunk of his sizable fortune that she was not responsible for that cock up. There was something about her indignation. There had been no deception in her assertion of her photographic memory.

Alexander was used to reading people. As CEO of Fairhaven Charities, he was responsible for appropriating vast amounts of money for deserving recipients. Applicants came out of the woodwork every day and many were not worth the paper the applications were printed on. Along with his charitable foundation, he also oversaw the British arm of the conglomerate, traveling back and forth across the pond every month. He had another trip in three days that would extend through Thanksgiving. Bloody inconvenient timing.

Their chance encounter played like a movie in his head. He’d been on his way back from a meeting with the One Fund, the charity established in the wake of the marathon bombings. He’d noticed her immediately. Her face was red and splotchy and the box was clutched tightly to her chest. Golden curls tumbled down her back as she’d glanced up at the sky apprehensively from under the awning. He’d headed towards her, intending to offer his umbrella, but she’d veered out onto the sidewalk as the drizzle turned into a torrential downpour. He hadn’t been able to move fast enough to save her from falling.

“I don’t get into cars with strange men. Not even rich and famous ones who save my wallet.” Her voice was spun honey, sultry and smooth. He wanted to hear her screaming his name in ecstasy.  

The thick black satin sheets whispered over his naked body and his hardening cock. He stretched out an arm and snagged his Piaget watch from the nightstand. Four-thirty in the morning. Good enough. Another few minutes fantasizing about her voice or her body and he’d have to take a cold shower.

He rolled out of bed and tugged on a pair of running shorts. Ten minutes later, he was downstairs in his personal gym. He programed a high energy music mix and ran through a long set of free weights, some Pilates, and ended with a six mile run. By the time he checked the clock, it was close to seven. He was dripping with sweat and totally spent, but his mind was still on Elizabeth.

He’d need that cold shower after all.

 #

 At precisely 9 a.m., Alexander reclined in his chair on his top floor office overlooking the Charles River. Ankles crossed, he rested his heels on the dark walnut desk. He glanced down at his watch. “Three. Two. One.”

His brother Nicholas burst into the room. “Alex, what the fuck were you thinking?”

Alexander chuckled. “You saw the morning papers?”

“Eight million dollars in one donation? Are you a proper dolt? Do you care nothing about the future of this company?” His brother was his opposite in every way. Where Alexander was tall, broad, and dark, Nicholas was blond and thin. He took after Mother while Alexander took after their late father.

“Eight million won’t even give the board heartburn. You lost half that much gambling last year alone. And it will pay for the cancer treatments for at least fifteen children. The Jimmy Fund is the best charity in the city. Before Father died, he told me to make sure this company never sold its soul. I’m trying to keep his spirit alive.”

“I feel as if you are trying to buy its soul back at a fifty percent markup with how much you’ve given away this year.” Nicholas narrowed his blue eyes at his brother. “Are you ill? You look terrible.”

Alexander rubbed his hands over his face. “Bugger off, Nicholas.”

“Up late partying?”

Nicholas had come to the United States at only twelve-years-old with their father. Alexander had remained in England with their mother until he was twenty. He’d attended Yale, majoring in business after a two-year stint in the Royal Army. He had avoided the family business until his late twenties. When their father had been diagnosed with lung cancer seven years ago, he’d agreed to take a position as co-chairman of the board at Fairhaven Exports and CEO and President of Fairhaven Charities and Fairhaven Limited in London. Nicholas ran the day-to-day operations of Fairhaven Exports. He and Alexander, forty and thirty-five respectively, were the two youngest members of the Forbes 400 Top Ten List, despite his brother’s penchant for betting on horses and poor luck at the tables.

“Hardly.”

Nicholas dropped into a chair across from Alexander. “Then what is it, man?”

Alexander’s gaze returned to the window, to Elizabeth’s tiny flat across the river towards the south. He shook his head. Why did he know exactly where she was? That wasn’t normal. Not after one encounter that barely lasted an hour.

“Your vulgar Americanized English offends me. As does your insistence on prying into my affairs.”

“Does it have anything to do with the name you asked me to look up last night?” Nicholas leaned forward. “Elizabeth Something-Or-Other?”

“Bennett,” Alexander answered without thinking.

“Oh, so it does!” Nicholas clapped his hands. “Who is she? And how did you meet the bird?”

“It’s none of your bloody business. Don’t you have a meeting to attend? I’m off to the Jimmy Fund in an hour and then I’ve got lunch with the owners of the Red Sox and several players. A perk of the donation, it seems. I suppose I should be grateful that Father was such a baseball fan. Otherwise I never would have seen the 2004 season.” Alexander tapped a few keys on his laptop. He raised a brow at his brother. “That is your cue to clear off, Nicholas. But answer me this. Will you be returning to England for Mother’s holiday extravaganza on Sunday?”

“Adequate deflection, Alex. But believe me. I will find out what you’re hiding. Perhaps I’ll go find Elizabeth Bennett myself. See what all the fuss is about.” He grinned.

Alexander saw red. He bolted around his desk in a single breath and hauled his brother to his feet. “If you so much as run her social security number, I will tell Mother that I had to bail you out of jail last year after you got pissed at the Celtics game and fell onto the court.” Alexander’s voice was practically a growl. He was using his best Dom voice, but his brother, though small, was a Master in the bedroom and could hold his own.

Nicholas threw up his hands. “Calm down. You had me look her up last night, remember? If she’s hands off, I’ll respect that.”

“She’s hands off.”

“Okay. You got it. You won’t tell Mother, right? It will ruin her ball,” Nicholas pleaded.

Alexander inclined his head. “No. I will not. Go back to your tower, Nicholas. I will see you soon.”

When he was alone again, Alexander turned to his computer. Anyone who ran a multi-billion dollar company had access to data the average American couldn’t possibly envision. If he’d wanted to, he could have ruined many a career with the information at his fingertips. Only his moral code and a firm belief in his father’s core values kept him from abusing this power. Alexander entered Elizabeth Bennett’s name and address into their HR software and waited impatiently for the background check to arrive in his inbox. It was unethical, but he couldn’t help himself. He took three phone calls and two dozen emails before he got the information he’d been looking for.

Elizabeth Bennett

Thirty-two years old

Born in Seattle, Washington to Avery and Mark Bennett, owners of Bennett Pharmaceuticals

Moved to Boston in 2009 and took a job with Carter, Pastack, and Hayes as a mid-level accountant

Promoted to senior accountant in 2011

 Avery and Mark inherited Bennett Pharmaceuticals from Mark’s father, Francis Bennett. The company was worth fifty million dollars and employed three thousand people. They were one of the few companies in the world that manufactured gabapentin, a drug commonly used to treat ADHD, and atorvastatin, a cholesterol medication. They also held the patent on an anti-nausea drug for cancer patients. The drug was obscenely expensive and Alexander scowled as he read the news stories surrounding the company including one scathing expose from an unnamed internal source. Widely vilified for their pricing practices, they held patents with an iron fist and raised prices well beyond what sick patients were able to pay.

Why had Elizabeth left their employ? Her file stated that she’d started working there right out of Harvard and had stayed for six years. She’d moved to Boston only a month after leaving her parents’ company, but she hadn’t taken her next job for two months after that.

He could request a detailed report on Elizabeth, but he paused. Did he really want to learn about her through an impersonal file generated by one of his employees? No. He wanted to learn about Elizabeth Bennett from Elizabeth Bennett.

 #

 Elizabeth punched in the code for her building’s outer door and practically collapsed into the hallway. She’d managed four miles today and a light weight workout at the Y in the middle of the run. Not bad for someone with an extra twenty pounds on her five-foot-six frame. But the rain had soaked her to the bone and her fingers were blue. She retrieved her mail and climbed the stairs to her apartment. At the front door, a small box wrapped in gold paper sat on the threadbare beige carpet. She looked up and down the hall. No one was around. Retrieving the box, she flipped over a small tag sticking up from the emerald green ribbon.

Fondly, Alexander Fairhaven

When had he come by? Or had he sent someone? A man as busy as he was wouldn’t have come himself. His driver maybe? She shrugged and unlocked her door. She was too cold to deal with whatever was in the box now and tossed it on the couch. She showered, changed into sweats, and curled up on her couch with River to watch Love Actually. Whenever she was in a rotten mood, that movie always seemed to do the trick.

She wished she had a cup of tea. She’d discovered Fortnum & Mason the first time she was in London and she ordered their Queen Anne blend every three months from a local tea shop. But Alexander had finished off the last of it after he’d brought her home last night. Damn him. She really could use a cup now. It was obscenely expensive and she couldn’t justify the cost, not without a job. She had a modest amount invested in her parents’ company, but the dividends from her stock all went to charity. She didn’t want to make a dime of profit off of the deplorable business practices her mother was famous for. No, her savings would have to tide her over until she found a new job and that meant little to no frivolous spending. She’d need to cancel her Y membership before too long.

Absently, she toyed with the tag on the box. Might as well see what Mr. Powerful And Handsome had sent her. She ripped through the paper, opened the box, and gaped. Inside rested a handwritten card and a metal tin of her favorite tea. She inhaled deeply. The strong, floral scent calmed her nerves. That tea had the power to make her feel like everything was going to be okay.

Elizabeth, my apologies for finishing the last of your tea and for not delivering this in person. Obligations will keep me in meetings all day. I would very much enjoy your company for coffee tomorrow morning. Perhaps 8 a.m. at Thinking Cup in the North End? If you decide to accept my invitation, kindly text me. My mobile number is on the card I left you. -Alexander

Elizabeth tossed the card on the couch next to her. River started playing with it. What did he think he was doing by inviting her for coffee? Men like Alexander Fairhaven didn’t date women like Elizabeth Bennett. That only happened in books and she’d never been one to believe in fairy tales. She snorted. Whatever. She’d let him buy her coffee. But for now, she wanted a cup of tea.

 #

The next morning, at precisely eight, Elizabeth ran into Thinking Cup. The rain was incessant today, and she couldn’t find her umbrella. At least the coffee shop was only a block from the T. She tossed the soaked newspaper she’d used as an umbrella substitute into the trash and examined the room. A counter along one wall held an assortment of pastries and antique-styled espresso machines. Handwritten menu boards lined the back of the shop. A hum of conversation hung thick in the air, though all awareness of the din faded when she saw him. Alexander sat in a dark corner with a French Press pot on the table in front of him. The patrons around him stared and tittered, snapping surreptitious mobile phone photos and whispering. He tried to look casual, a smartphone in his hand and an untouched croissant on a plate, but the set of his shoulders immediately changed when he saw her. They relaxed and a smile broke out over his face. He stood and offered her his hand. “I wasn’t certain you’d come.”

Elizabeth allowed his warmth to envelop her palm.

“I didn’t have anything else to do this morning. My work schedule is a bit . . . light these days,” she said dryly.

Alexander frowned and pulled out a chair for her. “I will order you coffee. May I get you a croissant as well? Or perhaps a breakfast sandwich?”

“All right. Bacon, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwich. Thank you.”

“How do you take your coffee?”

“Black.”

“A woman after my own heart. How refreshing.”

Elizabeth watched him walk away. His suit jacket was draped over the back of the chair. He wore a light gray shirt and dark gray pants. Everything about his dress was understated elegance, although his confidence was anything but. His ass filled out the pants nicely. He smiled at the barista, asked about her morning, paid cash, and dropped a twenty in the tip jar. She respected that. So few people took the time to be courteous to baristas, waiters, and shop clerks. It was something Elizabeth’s father had instilled in her at an early age. When Alexander returned to the table with another press pot and mug, she tried to return his smile, but couldn’t quite muster the emotion. This was a waste of time. Though it wasn’t as if she had anything better to do.

“I have been thinking about you,” he said.

“Why?”

His green eyes flashed with a dangerous glint. “Why not? I’m not allowed to think of an intelligent and beautiful woman?”

“Mist-Alexander. I’m unemployed and your suit probably costs more than my rent this month. You don’t know anything about me. There is nothing we could possibly have in common.” The barista rushed over with her breakfast sandwich and gave Elizabeth a wink. This was a mistake. Nothing good could come of it. “I’m sorry. I should go.”

“Stay.” With a single word, Alexander sent a shock of warmth to her core. “I cannot drink all this coffee alone and even if we have nothing in common but our good taste in tea, I believe the next hour will be more interesting than the rest of my day. Board meetings are my least favorite task. Steel me for the day with your smile, will you?”

He depressed the plunger on her press pot. Even in a busy coffee shop, the fresh scent of the brew invigorated her. She inhaled deeply and couldn’t help her smile.

“Now that is better. You have a lovely smile, Elizabeth. We will eat first, and then perhaps you will tell me how you came to discover Fortnum & Mason.”

Alexander poured her coffee, then his own, and unfolded a paper napkin across his lap. Elizabeth did the same and bit into her English muffin stuffed with eggs, bacon, and a sharp cheddar cheese. She watched him eat, deft fingers tearing into the flaky pastry. His lips twitched into a half smile after every sip of coffee and she found that hers did as well. By the time she polished off the last bite of her sandwich, she was nearly grinning. Alexander’s energy was magnetic. He had long finished his croissant, but said nothing. He waited for her to answer his question. She sat back and wiped the cornmeal from her fingers.

“I used to travel to London and Paris every year with my family. I fell in love with Queen Anne ten years ago. There’s a tea shop on Newbury Street that carries it. It reminds me of all those trips. Well, the good parts of them anyway. The lights of the Eiffel Tower, riding the Wheel overlooking the Thames. I used to love to travel.” She dropped her gaze to her hands clasped in her lap. She didn’t like talking about that time in her life. Looking back didn’t help anyone.

“Used to?” he prompted.

She cleared her throat and took another long sip of coffee. Her cup was empty, but Alexander filled it quickly. “I don’t see my family any more. We had a falling out.”

“Is that when you left the family business?”

“Yes.”

“Family is important, Elizabeth. They do not wish to see you? The holidays are fast approaching. You do not even visit at Christmas?”

“No. This . . . I’m sorry. Will you excuse me for a moment?” Elizabeth shoved back from the table, nearly toppling over her chair. She couldn’t breathe. The air in the shop was too thick. Too hot. It pressed in on her like a blanket. Where was the damn bathroom in this place?

Alexander shot up and took her arm, steadying her. “Elizabeth.” Her name rolled off his tongue with such a commanding and calm tone that she looked up into his sharp green eyes. “Take a deep breath. I am sorry that I pried. Forgive me.”

She inhaled his spicy scent. Coffee, cloves, pine, and freshly cut wood. “I don’t like talking about my family,” she said after she managed to catch her breath.

“Clearly. Will you answer one more question for me about them?”

“You can ask. I may or may not answer.” She allowed Alexander to pull out her chair again and she sat. Her hands shook until she shoved them under her thighs. She hadn’t had a panic attack in years, but between losing her job and Alexander’s prying questions, she was close. She took a few deep breaths to calm herself.

“Why did they shut you out?”

Anger rolled over her, replacing the panic. She ground her teeth together for a moment and spit out her next words. “Do you have any idea how much it costs to manufacture Zofran?”

“I do not know what Zofran is, so no.” Alexander leaned forward. His eyes never left her face.

“It’s an anti-nausea drug given to chemotherapy patients. It costs six cents a pill to manufacture. For years, you could get ten pills for about twenty dollars. But then my parents’ research division developed a more effective formula. Now they charge forty dollars for each pill. Most insurance won’t cover more than five dollars of that cost. It’s outrageous. Then there’s the gabapentin. It’s an anti-seizure drug. If you’ve got great insurance that is. Otherwise, you’re shit out of luck. I’m all for making a profit. But make it on the Viagra. Make it on the Rogaine. Not on the Zofran or the gabapentin. We—” She shook her head. “They used to donate pills to low-cost cancer treatment centers for women without insurance. That all stopped. My father had an affair, my parents divorced, and it all went to hell. They still run the business together, but since they have to share the profits now, all they care about is making money.”

“And you do not.”

“Money’s great. Don’t get me wrong. Speaking from one who doesn’t have a steady source of it right now, it’s a necessity. But my parents have enough saved up to take care of themselves for three full lifetimes. There’s a difference between making money and hoarding it. They hoard it. I called them on their shit, but they told me I was acting like a child. That I had no head for business. That I didn’t understand the finances. I’m an accountant for fuck’s sake. So I went to the Seattle Times and gave an anonymous interview, explaining how much it costs to make all these drugs. The stock price collapsed. My parents were livid and my ex-fiancé told them it was me. They fired me, disowned me, and told me they never wanted to see me again. So I moved as far away from them as I could and started fresh.” Elizabeth reached for her coffee cup, but her stomach roiled. She hated talking about her family. She pushed the mug away. Any more and she’d throw up.

A muscle in Alexander’s jaw flexed. His palms lay flat on the table. “I admit that I did a bit of research on you, Elizabeth. The news reports about your parents’ company were not favorable. I was not there, of course, but you are right about the difference between saving and hoarding. I am sorry that you lost your family, but knowing why, I find myself even more interested in getting to know you than I was yesterday.”

That wasn’t what Elizabeth expected to hear. He researched her? What was she? A potential business acquisition? No. She was a human being. Normal people didn’t research their dates. Sure, maybe they looked up their Facebook profile, checked out their Twitter account, but they didn’t research them. Anger flared again. “Am I a project to you?”

“A project? No. Why do you ask that?”

“I don’t appreciate being researched. Do you know my bank account balance now? My dress size? My credit rating? What about my Internet search history?”

“Calm down, Elizabeth. I know none of those things. I was curious about the firm that fired you. We use them for some of our accounting. I asked my Human Resources department to pull a basic report on your employment with Carter, Pastack, and Hayes. I know you are thirty-two. A fact I also learned from your driver’s license. I know you were born in Seattle and moved here in 2009. I know when you started at Carter, Pastack, and Hayes. And that is it. I do not wish to learn of you from a report.”

“You’re a pompous ass, Alexander. Thank you for the coffee and the breakfast. Enjoy your board meeting.” Elizabeth rose, smoothed her hands down her slacks, turned, and walked out the door into the storm.

 #

 Alexander stalked out of the board meeting at 6 p.m. He was exhausted, irritated, and his upcoming trip loomed. He was silent on the ride home in his limo, staring out the window and not seeing a thing. When the limo pulled to a stop, the privacy screen lowered and Thomas turned in his seat. “Sir, are you all right?”

The man had been a stunt driver for two years until a fiery crash ended his career. He’d taken a job as a chauffeur not long after and had driven Alexander during his first trip to the States. The week Alexander moved to Boston permanently, he looked up the young man and offered him a full-time position. “I’m fine, Thomas. My breakfast meeting went poorly, that is all. I must leave for the airport at 6 a.m. tomorrow. But you and the rest of the staff will have five days off after that. Go see your family. Tell them you love them.” Knowing Elizabeth had no contact with her family had him yearning to see his mother’s smile and missing his father.

Thomas drove off to stow the car in the space Alexander leased in an underground garage a few blocks away. Alexander took a moment to stare up at the stars. It was a clear and cold night and the constellation Orion stared back at him. Named after a hunter in Greek mythology, Alexander had always felt a pull towards the arrangement of stars. The front door opened and his household manager, Samuel, cleared his throat.

“Sir? It is freezing outside.”

Alexander turned. His two-and-a-half story American Foursquare style home with its wrought iron gate, brick façade and white wood dormer was already lit up for the holidays. Samuel stood in the doorway, wearing a thick wool coat.

Alexander climbed the stairs wearily. He needed a drink. He hadn’t been able to concentrate properly all day. His thoughts continually turned to Elizabeth and her dismissal of him. “Apologies, Samuel. It has been a day. Once you’ve set out my luggage, take the rest of the evening off.”

“It’s already done, sir.”

Upstairs in his suite, Alexander stripped on the way to the custom river-rock, walk-in shower. The house was largely original, dating back a century, but he’d insisted on gutting the bathroom and bedroom when he’d purchased it four years ago. This was his personal sanctuary. Four showerheads massaged his body. The hot water sluiced down his well-muscled back and he braced his head on his forearms against the wall. After Elizabeth’s indignant departure at the Thinking Cup, he’d tried to focus on his work, but he’d failed miserably. She wanted nothing to do with him. Why couldn’t he get her out of his mind? Because she’s beautiful, smart, and unbearably sad. That body. That spark of strength.

His cock sprang to life under the heat of his thoughts. His balls hung heavy and smooth. He’d undergone laser hair removal a dozen years ago, preferring nothing between him and the women he chose to play with. But he hadn’t had more than a passing fling in recent memory. Every woman he’d dominated or tried to dominate had left him unfulfilled. Since he’d moved to Boston, a single arch of his brow or a smile could entice a woman, but they were all interested in one thing. Bedding a billionaire. Few were adventurous enough to put themselves in his silks and those that were always seemed to treat their play like a game, not the true submission he craved.

He spilled lube into his hand and wrapped his fist around the hardening flesh. The thought of her luscious lips drove him on. Alexander ran his fingers over the thick vein on the underside of his cock. His hips took on a mind of their own as thoughts of Elizabeth consumed him. The brilliance of her smile, the light in her eyes when she’d taken a sip of coffee, and even the indignation when he’d told her he’d researched her. Everything about the woman fascinated him. Her voice, saying his name: “Alexander.” He imagined her moaning it, blindfolded, her slender wrists confined in his silk restraints. “Alexander, please. Alexander, fuck me.

He wanted her begging for release. He wanted to give it to her; he wanted her screaming his name. His fist clenched, his hips drove harder, and when his balls tightened, he groaned her name as his load hit the polished rock wall of the shower.

He’d not fantasized about a woman in years. Not a specific woman anyway. A woman’s body, perhaps. Breasts, pink from his silk and suede flogger, buttocks reddened from his hand, nipples held in his clamps with black silk tassels. He favored silk, as the sensual texture enhanced a woman’s pleasure. He cared little for his own release. He took his pleasure from a woman’s submission. He always came, of course, but long after his subs had given up multiple orgasms. He wanted Elizabeth in his silks. He angled one of the shower heads to the wall, washing away his semen.

A bit of his tension released, he toweled off and flopped down naked on his bed. He had her number. He had to contact her.

Elizabeth, my apologies for this morning. I was curious about you. I suppose I could have stalked your Facebook page—assuming you have one. But that’s too personal.

He ran out of characters and swore.

I merely wanted to know a bit about you. A starting point for more. I was wrong. Please forgive the cock-up.

He set the phone down once the message disappeared, but he kept picking it up again as he went about his evening. It wasn’t until nearly eleven, after he’d packed, dined on a light dinner of sea scallops and kale, undressed, and climbed naked into bed that his phone buzzed.

Thank you. It was rude of me to storm out. You were wrong, but so was I. I’m sorry.

He grinned. It was something.

What is your favorite color?

Purple. What an odd question. But fine. I’ll play your game for a moment. Yours?

Blue. I said I wanted to get to know you. How else do you propose I do so? Night owl or early bird?

Early bi taew ho;aier wafsd vho;x

Elizabeth? What is wrong? Answer me quickly, please.

Sorry. My kettle went off and while I was in the kitchen, River played with my phone.

Alexander sat up in bed. Who the hell was River? A child? The text had been gibberish. His fingers fumbled with his next message. He typed and erased three replies before deciding on something simple.

River?

My cat. River Song.

He laughed with relief. Doctor Who? Everything he learned about her left him hungry for more. His eyes were gritty and tired, and the clock tormented him.

I must sleep now. I’m up at five. May I text you tomorrow night? I will be in England for a few days, but I would like to continue to get to know you.

Why?

Because you have a spark about you, Elizabeth. And I wish to see how bright it burns. Sleep well, chérie.

Good night, Alexander.

He fell asleep with a smile on his face.

 

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