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Sparkler Sneak Preview Cont’d

For 18+ only. This is the second SPARKLERS ONLY catch up page for your sneak preview of my soon-to-be-released novel, Next to Naked. If you need the first four parts go here:

Next to Naked (Cont’d)

“You’ll get them as soon as we get them to you!” Mistress Alexis said into the phone and then slammed the receiver into the cradle.

“Did you just hang up on that guy?” Benjamin snapped at Alexis. They were both behind the large reception desk.

Kylie watched them both as she stood in the doorway of the reception area holding one of the glass doors open. She didn’t want to let it shut and make a noise. This was definitely a bad time to stop by. She was just about to duck out when they looked up and spotted her.

Kylie’s eyes went to Benjamin’s face to check his mood. Her hopeful glance was met with a scowl. She felt like crawling back to the elevator and leaving. Her mind flashed with the idea of crawling in front of Benjamin, and she was surprised that she liked the idea.

“Kylie!” Mistress Alexis exclaimed. Kylie’s attention snapped to Alexis. Mistress waived at her to come inside. She was glad that Mistress was happy to see her, but she wasn’t sure it was such a good idea to visit the office.

“I didn’t mean to bother you. I was just in the neighborhood, and I thought I’d follow up on the job and let you know I was still interested.”

Benjamin looked unhappy. Kylie knew she was not going to get this job and was definitely not going to get to crawl around in front of him.

“Did you hear that Benjamin?” Mistress Alexis said. “Kylie has come to follow-up on the job. Isn’t that professional of her?”

Benjamin was about to answer, but the phone rang again. Mistress Alexis rolled her eyes and let out a frustrated groan as she reached to pick it up.

“Alexis,” Benjamin warned. “Just pick up the phone and be POLITE. You know I’m expecting a call from David.”

Alexis glared at Benjamin and folded her arms. He glared back. The tension in the room made Kylie incredibly uncomfortable. With each ring, the temperature in the reception area actually felt like it was getting hotter. All Kylie could do was stand there and stare at the floor.

“Alexis,” Benjamin said. His teeth were gritted, and his voice was thick with rage and impatience.
Kylie’s gaze shot up from the floor the moment she heard his voice. The way he’d said ‘Alexis’ was terrifyingly mesmerizing. Benjamin, who had been standing next to the seated Alexis, leaned even closer to Alexis so that he was hovering over her. It looked very intimidating. Kylie knew she would be quaking with fear if he had done that to her, but Alexis didn’t appear to be intimidated in the slightest. Instead, Alexis stood up and glared right back at him. It was the first time Kylie noticed that Mistress Alexis was a rather large woman. She and Benjamin looked nearly the same height. The mere idea that this could escalate into a physical confrontation ratcheted Kylie’s anxiety up to near panic. The phone continued to ring, and Kylie couldn’t stand it any longer. She rushed to the desk and answered the telephone.

“Good afternoon, Stripped Media, how can I help you?” Kylie greeted.

Out of the corner of her eye she saw Benjamin and Mistress Alexis looking at her, but she looked away and focused on the man on the line who asked to speak to Benjamin Price.

“May I ask who’s calling please?” Kylie said imitating the receptionists she seen in the movies. “Yes Mr. Morgan, I believe Mr. Price is expecting your call. Can you hold one moment?” Kylie put her hand over the mouthpiece.

“It’s Mr. David Morgan for you, sir,” Kylie said to Benjamin barely making eye contact, but she did see Mistress Alexis smile. Benjamin turned and left.

“I’ll take it in my office,” he called from the other room and moments later Kylie heard his door shut.
Mistress Alexis showed Kylie how to put the call on hold so that Benjamin could pick it up.

“I think you just got yourself a job,” Alexis said.

“I don’t think that he would agree,” Kylie answered. Even though she really wanted the job, Kylie didn’t want to be there if he didn’t want her.

“Don’t worry about Benjamin,” Mistress Alexis told her.

“But he’s the boss.”

“Honey, here’s something you ought to know,” Alexis explained. “He’s the boss nearly all of the time, but nobody else can be boss when Mistress Alexis is around.”

Kylie hoped Mistress was right.

* * * *

They were in the photography studio. She knew she hadn’t been in the studio enough to have such a familiar feeling. It was that same kind of sense memory she would get when she caught a whiff of Elmer’s glue, and she’d flashback to elementary school and pasting shapes of construction paper to make Thanksgiving turkeys. The atmosphere of the photo studio was intense, and the air felt imprinted with nefariousness. Her apprehension grew and bloomed into the quaking anxiety that she hadn’t experienced since she was a kid. The anxiety stirred in her chest, trembled across her arms and moved into her hands until she shook all over. She wanted to run away and hide.

She looked up and saw his icy eyes staring down at her. Her nipples hardened as if a draft from the air-conditioning had given her chill, and her anxiety shifted slightly toward excitement. She realized that she was completely naked and on the bed. He was taking pictures of her. She could hear the clicking of the camera and see the flash going off. She wanted to cover herself, but for some reason she couldn’t move. The anxiety threatened to return, but his voice staved it off.

“That’s it,”  he said as the camera and the lights continued to click and flash. He wasn’t even behind the camera anymore. It was as if the camera was on automatic, or he operated it by just his will.

“Good girl,” he continued as she stilled herself on the bed. His voice was encouraging, but firm. She felt hypnotized. She noticed that he was naked, too. Had he been naked all this time? She couldn’t think straight. His shoulders were much broader than she had originally thought. He was lean, muscular and obviously fit, but not in that obsessing-at-the-gym kind of way. His hard body exuded a natural strength and masculinity.

“Don’t think. Don’t worry. Just do what I say.”

She nodded yes and felt her whole body shiver again. The atmosphere of fear and desire was intoxicating and paralyzing. Yet it still held tinges of an old memory on its periphery. Everything was so overwhelming that the idea of just doing what he said and not having to figure out how to think or what to do seemed glorious. She felt the air heat up between them as he moved closer to her. He approached the bed and kneeled next to her, careful not to actually touch her. He let his gaze stop at her chest. A sexy smirk pulled at his lips, and then he bent closer to her and blew on her nipple. She arched her back to push her body closer to him. She realized her arms and legs were somehow bound to the bed. Knowing that she was powerless to stop him from doing whatever he wanted excited her even more and silenced her feelings of guilt and shame. She couldn’t move if she wanted to. She just focused on her longing for his touch. Nothing else mattered. She waited. He reached to cup her left breast an opened his lips slightly to take her nipple in his mouth. She moaned, and then–

It was a few minutes past five in the morning. Kylie hadn’t intended on waking up for another two hours. She wished she could go back to that dream, but she was also disturbed. It wasn’t the sexy part that she found so disconcerting. It was that odd familiar feeling that weirded her out. A memory of her parents getting ready for date night just as the local evening news came on flashed into her mind. Kylie remembered how her anxiety used to coarse through her body as she ran to the couch in her nightgown and waited for the familiar sound of the horns and percussion that heralded the start of the broadcast. That was before her parents got rid of all the TV sets and before she ever played the viola. Why was she thinking about that now? Maybe it had something to do with living back at home.

She pushed the uncomfortable out of her mind and looked around her bedroom. She hadn’t lived in this room since she was thirteen when she was accepted into the Westland Music Conservatory in New York. She’d spent her teenage years divided between living on campus during the school year and summers in whatever youth orchestra tour her mom had deemed most prestigious.

Even though Kylie was only a child, her mother, Joyce, periodically redecorated Kylie’s room in a tasteful manner. Joyce Morris had great taste, and Kylie was never particularly good at picking out clothes or arranging things. Kylie found that kind of stuff oddly stressful. There were many times when her mother tried to get Kylie’s input on the decor, but Kylie instinctively knew that her mother had specific ideas in mind.

One time her mom had torn down the canopy from her bed while asking her to pick out bedspreads, and another time her mom had smashed a window after Kylie said she didn’t care about the curtains. She remembered trying to hide how much her hands were shaking as her mom had shown her paint color choices and fabric swatches the next time they redecorated. From then on Kylie had focused on how to decipher which choice was the one that her mother really wanted by the way her mom pointed out the options. It felt like some kind of psychic shell game.

Her relationship with her father, Nathan, was pretty much the same except he was more concerned with her academic and career choices. His anger frightened Kylie more than her mother’s, because he kept it tamped down until it erupted. When Kylie had failed her first driver’s test, her father didn’t say a word to her. His body became stiff with rage, and he left the house to “talk” to Kylie’s driving instructor. He came back that night with bandaged fists and a rental car. Kylie never asked what happened to the family Volvo or her driving teacher. She never saw either again.

Because of her home life, Kylie had mastered the art of figuring out what people wanted from her and giving it to them. As a result, she skated through life with very little conflict, but had never really given much thought about what she wanted. When she tried to think of what she wanted, all she could come up with was that she just wanted to have people not be angry with her for wanting the wrong thing.

After she lost her job in Boston, Kylie had gotten several offers to audition for other orchestras. She went on two auditions with disastrous results. Her parents were not happy when they heard that she had blown those two auditions. It had been such a weird feeling to choke at an audition. She’d never done that before. When she called her parents to tell them, she could hear their voices were tight with repressed anger, and they had cut the conversation short. Kylie could imagine the rage-full discussion her parents must have had after that call.

Kylie didn’t want to tell her parents about her new job. They would never approve of it, and they had their hearts set on having a classical musician for a daughter, but then again, this new job was only temporary. The familiar pang of guilt became a lump in Kylie’s throat. She shouldn’t lie to her parents or think about their tempers. Kylie knew that both of her parents had come from very violent homes and worked very hard to make sure that Kylie didn’t have that kind of childhood. Her parents were good people, but they were very bottled up. In many ways Kylie always thought that they had risen above their childhood programming. They’d never raised a hand to Kylie, and yet, Kylie had always felt afraid of them-which she imagined hurt her parents’ feelings. How dare she think ill of them-especially her mother.

Kylie imagined how difficult it must of been for her parents to deal with their daughter’s constant anxiety and fear over nothing when, as children, her parents actually did grow up in an environment where they were in constant, physical danger. But unlike her parents, Kylie wasn’t brave. She was nervous and sometimes immobilized by anxiety and, what her psychiatrist had recently labeled as, major depression. She felt worthless. She knew it wasn’t good to ruminate on these kind of thoughts.

Kylie got up, grabbed her purse, and rummaged through it to look for her prescription from the pharmacy. She was supposed to take it with food. The dosage might have to be adjusted, but she would take it for a few months and monitor the effects. Kylie clicked on the the light and read the warning packet that came in the bag. It said she had to abstain from drinking while on the medication. What if she got asked out for drinks after work? Kylie had very little personal experience with how the real world worked outside of being in an orchestra. She didn’t want to miss out on-especially if Benjamin was going.

The little warning packet also noted that Kylie should immediately call her doctor if she heard voices or suffered from suicidal thoughts. Was starting her medication on her first day of work a good idea taking into account the alcohol thing, suicidal thoughts and voice stuff? Or was choosing not to take the medicine, the self-destructive behavior her therapist told her to avoid? She couldn’t decide so she opted to take a long, hot shower instead. Kylie dropped the bottle into the top drawer of her nightstand and headed for the bathroom. She could start tomorrow.