Authors: Harper Cole
While I waited for the police to arrive at Jas's flat, I prowled around. I didn't touch anything, but I wanted to get more a flavor of who she was.
A workaholic - that was the overriding impression that I had. She was careful, clean, neat and obsessive.
I had suspected she was desperate to control all aspects of her life, but seeing her shoes laid out in color order, and her pristine kitchen, and her careful stack of books ranked by size, made me realize just how desperate she was. There would be a reason, I knew.
I told myself that she needed a Master. Someone like me, obviously, who could ease the burden. I could step in and take control for a little while, and allow her to relax.
If only it were that easy. I'd been around plenty of dungeons, and I'd indulged in lots of BDSM sex play, and I'd had some submissive girlfriends. Yet my relationship with Jas had the potential to be different and I wasn't quite sure what the difference was. I felt a greater responsibility and it made me both excited - and nervous.
I wasn't usually a nervous person.
I had never wanted to be a "lifestyler" and if I were completely honest, I wasn't sure if people really lived as Master and Slave or Dom and Sub all the time. Of course, some people said they did, but I couldn't quite comprehend it.
I wasn't sure what to do.
My musings were interrupted - to my relief - by the arrival of London's finest from the Metropolitan Police. It had taken them forty minutes, and they had sent a fat cop with egg on his chin and a PCSO - essentially a "plastic policeman" with limited powers. They wore the uniform and strolled around to make the public think there were more police around than there really were.
I explained the situation and they took some notes but they seemed unconcerned. I insisted that the signs of forced entry were worrisome but they shrugged.
An adult woman living alone was considered flighty.
Who knew what such types got up to,
it was implied.
By the time they left - a scant fifteen minutes after they had arrived - I was fuming. I didn't even have a crime reference number as they were not convinced a crime had taken place. It wasn't my accommodation so I could not insist there had been a break in.
The PCSO had been maddeningly patronizing. "She'll turn up again. They usually do. My missus once went off for a week. We'd had a row, you know. Huge argument. Plates smashed, the lot. Anyway. Let us know when she comes back. She can report the break-in to us. If there was. You'll probably find she's just had a bit of an upset. Some women, eh? Eh?"
I would have smacked his silly mouth if I could have done. I could only snarl at them and watch them walk away.
* * * *
I had made Jas's flat as secure as I could by calling out a late-night locksmith. It wasn't cheap but I was hardly short of cash. Then I made my way home, and spent a fitful and restless night.
I was able to contain myself until midday the following day, and then I broke. I rang the police and tried to establish what they were going to do. I had hoped that speaking to someone on the day shift might be more amenable than the rejects that had been relegated to night duty.
I was informed, with curt derision, that it was "not a priority" and the call was abruptly terminated.
Not a priority? I had emphasized to them Jas was new to London; she was involved in large business deals; that she had clearly been targeted.
Had the police been leant on?
Who had that sort of power?
Who had any sort of power
, I thought. I knew one man who might be able to help me untangle all of this.
But it would be a bitter pill to swallow to go and ask him for help.
How much did I really want to help Jas? A lot, I had to concede. But enough to go and beg my father to help me? He could insist that the police gave us assistance. Hell, my father had enough contacts throughout government and the civil service to start his own investigation and find her.
If I were to meet up with my father, it would make the old bastard very happy. He was behind those messages on my phone. He'd been ramping up the campaign since I'd returned to London. I knew he expected me to join him in business and politics and the fact that I'd spurned his carefully managed empire had disappointed him. But children had to make their own way in life - he just didn't seem to be proud that I was doing exactly that.
Still, how long could we continue this rivalry? We were at an impasse. Maybe if I went to ask for his help and advice, it would start to build a bridge between us, and he would eventually come to understand that I needed to be independent of him. I could make my own way, without his influence.
He would make me beg, I thought. I would have to eat a lot of humble pie.
I'm a Dom, damn it! No one tells me what to do - not even him.
But for Jas?
My father was the only one I knew that had enough power to help me now.
I awoke in a luxurious bedroom, my legs tangled in fine cotton sheets. There was a soft light filtering through the drapes. I was naked, and alone.
I sat up carefully and felt my face with my fingers. My cheek was tender to the touch, and my feet throbbed. There was red, broken skin on my wrists from the tape. I was hungry yet feeling nauseous, too. And my head pounded.
On the table to my right was a pitcher of water and I was thirsty enough to chance it. So it might be poisoned or drugged? So what. Things could not get any worse, could they?
Apart from the bed and the table, there was nothing else in the room. I pulled at the sheets, thinking I might create some kind of kimono or sarong from one of them. I was planning on smashing my way out through the window.
I had just begun to wrap a sheet awkwardly around my body when the door opened and I froze.
It was that man. Andrew's father. Leonard Walker-Wilkinson. Or, Jerkwad-Asshat as I was calling him in my head. Total Jerkwad-Asshat.
I was still sitting in the bed, but at least I was covered up. I straightened. My instinct was to start hollering and demanding that he release me, but I bit my tongue.
"Ms. Turner. I trust you slept well?"
I glared, but did not speak.
He paused but when it was obvious I was going to stay silent, he went on. "I shall have some clothing brought in for you. I should like you to join me in the drawing room and I shall explain my business proposal in greater depth. I shall also explain the - ahh, let us say - the
that might arise should you refuse my generous offer. Gemma will come in to attend to you momentarily."
He whisked away and no sooner had the door closed than it opened again, and a bland, mousey sort of woman crept in. She had dull brown hair and no make-up, and she was carrying a pair of smart black slacks and a cream sweater. She laid it all out on the bed, along with some lingerie and a hairbrush, and then stepped back, folding her hands together in front of her.
"So don't I get a little privacy to dress, then?" I said.
She looked at the end of the bed, not at me, but she said, "No, you do not."
Her flat and defiant tone of voice took me completely by surprise. She was
going to be a pushover. Still, I had to try. "This Leonard jerk take a lot of women prisoner?"
"He takes no one prisoner. Dress, please. He is waiting."
"I will be going straight to the cops, you know. You really wanna be an accomplice in all this?"
I swear the corner of her mouth lifted in a sneer or a smile or something. "Dress, please."
I snatched at the clothing and dressed with angry, jerky movements.
* * * *
The sullen Gemma led me out of the bedroom and along a bare corridor, down some stairs and into a wide and luxurious room. This place was a total head fuck. Some rooms were prisons; some were palaces. This particular room was tricked out like Downton Fucking Abbey. There were long windows at one end, and through the gauzy drapes I could see wide green lawns and trees. So we were at ground level, then. Perhaps I could throw one of the marble busts through the glass and make my escape.
I inched forward.
Leonard Jerkwad-Asshat stood up. He was still in a dark, sober looking suit, and he smiled as if he was delighted to see me. Once I had felt comforted and relaxed by that smile.
Now I wanted to rub broken glass in his face.
"Come," he said, beckoning me to the table at the far end of the enormous room. "Let me show you-"
There was a tap at the door and a butler from the nineteenth century oozed in. Seriously, he was wearing a bow tie and looked like he'd been scrubbed with a brush dipped in history. He whispered something in Leonard Jerkwad-Asshat's ear, who raised his eyebrows, and then nodded.
The ancient retainer slid out - I swear he was on castors. Maybe he'd been recruited from the Addams Family. And a moment later, my heart nearly flipped out my mouth when Andrew walked in.
"Ahh." Leonard moved closer to me, and gripped my elbow firmly. I pulled at it, but his clasp was iron. "So. Welcome home, Andrew. Have you come to beg for her?"
Andrew's face was sheer horror. He glared at me, and at his father. "What is she doing
"Did you not…?"
Andrew shouted above all the confusion. "What is she doing
, you bastard?"
Their faces were alike as I looked from one to the other, trying to unravel what was happening. They had similar build, and similar facial expressions, too - in both cases, this was fury, right now.
And I felt a glimmer of fear. Leonard was the father. Andrew was the son. And both were alike.
I could choose Leonard, and money. But I wanted to choose Andrew … yet was he not the same as his father? I could see so many similarities and a trickle of doubt began to slowly fill my heart.
And Andrew wanted me to submit to him. Just as his father expected people to fall at his feet.
Leonard kept his hand tight on my arm. "She's here to work for me, Andrew. As I expect you shall, too. It is most fortuitous that you are here. Shall we make the most of this serendipity? Let us talk business."
"With you? Never. Never! Jas, what happened? Are you here willingly?"
"Hell, no!" To emphasize my point, I tried to pull free of Leonard's grip. "This asshole's ape-men broke into my apartment, dragged me here, and he won't let me go."
"Father!" Andrew strode forward, and Leonard simply raised his right hand, palm out, as if it had some magical power.
"Stop, Andrew," he said in that firm, calm, I-shall-be-obeyed voice that teachers have.
It should have worked. Most parents have that way of saying something that takes you right back to being a kid again.
But it didn't work this time.
Andrew surged forward, right into our faces, and slammed his hand onto Leonard's wrist. "Let her go."
Leonard must have been surprised because he loosened his grip enough for me to wrench myself free. I dashed across the room toward the door, and then turned. I wanted to be close enough to an exit but I also needed to see how this was going to play out.
Leonard was furious. He had gone purple in the face, and he roared at his son. "Andrew! You have no respect, no sense of honor, no sense of duty - nothing! How do you expect to come into your inheritance if you continue to willfully ignore your responsibilities to the family?"
"Fuck the inheritance," Andrew muttered, and laid a roundhouse blow squarely on the side of his father's head.
* * * *
"Holy crap, holy crap, holy crap!" I was jabbering and Andrew hauled me out of the house and down the stone stairs, onto the gravel drive. "You just gonna leave him there? He was out cold!"
"He has staff. They'll attend to him. Come on; I am sorry for the haste but we have to get away." Andrew's arm was hard around my shoulders as we hurried down the driveway.
"Where are we going?"
"I'm parked a little way away. But - ah shit, I thought as much."
The ornate metal gates across the end of the driveway were closed. There was a complicated security system, and a very high wall. My panic was rising again, fuelled by Andrew's haste to get away.
Before I could ask him what we were going to do, he was speaking urgently into his cell. "Fire!" he was saying. "I think there's still somebody in the house …" Then he was giving the address and explaining that the gate system had been damaged and was stuck shut.
"Clever," I said, half to myself, as he pushed his cell back into his pocket. He pulled me to a tree by the gate, and hid us both behind it. I glanced up, but there was no way we could climb it to get over the wall.
Still, it wasn't long before the sirens sounded in the distance. Andrew hadn't spoken in all that time. He just hung on to me, and stared around as if he expected his father's henchmen to leap out of the bushes.
The fire appliance drew up outside the gates and one of the fire men spoke into the tannoy; there was confusion and argument.
"They'll just turn around and go home, won't they?" I hissed to Andrew.
"They can't. They need to check, and they'll ram their way in if they had to."
They didn't have to. The gates buzzed and with a clang and a jerk to start off, they slowly slid open. As the fire truck began to ease past us, we took advantage of the screen that it offered, and ran straight out the gates onto the street.
Andrew's car was not far away, and to my surprise Andrew jumped into the back next to me, saying, "Amjad - drive."
And we sped off, and as I glanced at the stony-faced figure of Andrew beside me - so like his father - I wondered if this was another bad choice in a sea of nothing but bad choices.
* * * *
I wanted to ask where we were going, but there was a forbidding atmosphere hanging around Andrew that made me stay silent. I laughed at myself. I didn't usually pay much attention to "intuition" - it was a bullshit thing, as far as I was concerned, like the dream-catchers my mom hung on the porch and around the house, or the psychics my sister used to go see. But there was a definite wall around Andrew.
Amjad parked the car and a hush settled over us. I waited.
Andrew shook his head as if he was waking up, and finally turned to me. He looked shockingly older for a moment, then blinked, and the familiar man returned. "Jasmine. I've brought you to my house. I think we need to talk."
The door opened and Amjad ushered us out. Andrew extended his hand to me, and I took it as I got to my feet on the sidewalk.
"You would have spat in my face for that, not so long ago," he said.
I swallowed. "I still kinda want to," I admitted, looking down. "But I'm trying to learn to show you respect." I was also beginning to realize he might be a dangerous man to upset.
And that made my stomach flutter - in pleasure.
Holy fuck, what was I?
Not only was I becoming the kind of woman who didn't mind a man telling her what to do, I also liked the fact he was a violent fuck who'd punch his own father in the face?
Okay, so it was sorta on my behalf. But not entirely. There was a whole lot of historical bad shit going down between those two.
He snorted at my answer, and kept hold of my hand as he led me past some black railings and into a narrow townhouse. It looked like a classic Victorian build, with at least four stories as far as I could tell from the outside.
Did he pay for this with money from his father? Or had he
cut off all ties with him, and earned enough for this? I hoped it was the latter. I would be seriously impressed.
I had to ask. He led me down the red-tiled corridor and to a comfortable kitchen at the back of the house, where he began to set up a complicated stainless steel coffee machine that would have looked fine in a high street coffee place.
"Nice place," I said. "Your work must pay well…"
"I've done a lot of investing. I play the markets well. That's why I'm a researcher."
"Kinda like a market analyst?"
"Quite close, yes. What type of coffee would you like?" He waved at an array of colorful foil packets.
He raised one eyebrow at me, and finally cracked a smile. "Coming right up. Please, do sit down."
"I feel kinda awkward in your house. I mean, I know you have all these rules and that. Stuff you expect me to do…"
"Yes. About all that…"
We both tailed off. I waited. I knew that it was what my role demanded.
Submit; be quiet. Wait.
It was weird, but I felt a little calmer. The problem was
to deal with.
The coffee machine made a strange noise and released a rich aroma. He inhaled deeply, and said, "Jas. Jasmine. I went to my father's to ask him for help in finding you. I never expected that
"Why did he take me?"
"Did he not tell you?"
"Not really. He kept saying stuff about how he had a business deal for me, but it wouldn't interfere with my current work. It was like he wanted me to spy for him or something. On my company, perhaps?"
"No! On me! The bastard," Andrew said, looking astounded. "The sly fucker."
"Wait, what. Spy on you? Why?"
He ran his hand through his hair, making it stick up. "It's really complicated. I think you must have guessed some of it. I was always supposed to follow in his footsteps. He hoped I'd help grow the family empire. He's in parliament and in business, and he's as corrupt as hell. And being his son has opened doors for me, even when I didn't want them to. Even my own job was in part because of
But I don't want to be his lackey and I don't want to be dishonest."