Broken Innocence: Books 1, 2 and 3: BDSM Erotica Alpha Billionaire Series - Bridget Taylor - ebook
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Broken Innocence: Bridget Taylor's BDSM Erotica Alpha Billionaire Series. This includes Book 1, Book 2 and Book 3 of the Alpha Billionaire Romance Series. Broken InnocenceBroken Innocence will take you to the powerful world (full of BDSM fantasies) of Henry Lennox where he takes away the innocence of the cute Stacey. Henry Lennox is a powerful man with unique tastes. He sits atop a media empire that he has built from the ground up. Surrounded by only the most beautiful and talented of women, he enjoys both success and excess. Stacy Caldwell is nervous as she begins her first day at Lennox Advertising. She notices immediately that she does not exactly fit in with this stable of model-attractive young women. When she somehow attracts the notice of Henry Lennox, she is unsure how to respond. She can hardly resist his appeal, in spite of herself. What happens when their affair draws unwanted controversy? Included in the box set is:-Alpha Billionaire Book 1: Broken Innocence -Alpha Billionaire Book 2: Broken Purity-Alpha Billioniare Book 3: Broken ChasityBroken Innocence is an erotica romance intended for mature audiences. This is BDSM Erotica book collection.

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Contents

COPYRIGHT

Broken Innocence Book One

One

Two

Three

Four

Five

Six

Seven

Eight

Intro/Copyright

Broken Purity Book Two

One

Two

Three

Five

Six

Seven

Intro/Copyright

Broken Chasity Book Three

One

Two

Three

Four

Five

Six

Seven

COPYRIGHT

Broken Innocence (Alpha Billionaire Romance Series Book 1)

By Bridget Taylor 

Copyright @2015 by Bridget Taylor.

All Rights Reserved.

This book may not be used or reproduced in any form, in whole or in part, without permission from the author or publisher. Any resemblance to actual events, locales or persons whether living or dead is entirely coincidental. This book contains mature content of sexually explicit scenes, situations for adults 18+. Every character in this book is 18+ years of age.

All the characters in this book are fictional.

Broken Innocence Book One

One

Opulence.

That was the first word that came to my mind as I walked into the Lennox. The large, fifteen-foot tall fountain greeted me with a rush of water jetting into the air and its soft mist touching my nose. I turned my head to the left to see the Bluepointe Lounge, a young man in a crisp white shirt and black slacks opening the doors from the lobby into the restaurant. To my right stood the passageway to the parking deck. It was exclusive to the Lennox Building, even though three other buildings sat adjacent to us on this block.

Tomorrow I would be walking through that passageway. Today, I had been too nervous about my first day to consider driving as an option. With the rotating glass doors behind me, and the elevator lobby ahead of me, I walked forward. I was taking a new step into a bright and energetic future. My next step would be –

“Oh, excuse me.”

I stopped and turned my head forward, averting my eyes for the tall, blonde woman I had nearly blundered into. “I am so sorry.”

“That’s quite alright.” She extended one long, narrow hand out to me. I noticed that her nails were perfectly sculpted and felt a twinge of envy and intimidation as I took her hand to shake. “You must be new. Everyone is thrown off by the lobby the first day.”

“Thank you.” I hesitated and looked up to meet the bright blue eyes that studied me carefully. I thought this woman was as intelligent as she was beautiful. Every feature seemed perfectly in place, from the curve of her eyebrows to the small smile that accentuated her lips. “I’m Stacy Caldwell.”

Her smile broadened. “Then it’s fortuitous that we almost ran into each other. We can take the elevator up together. I’m Ana Golde.”

I dropped her hand, trying to be casual about it. I was hoping to have a few minutes to collect myself, maybe fidget with my hair in the bathroom before meeting Ms. Golde. She was the Human Resources Manager for Lennox Advertising, and would be the one responsible for the orientation process of my first week weeks. 

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Ms. Golde,” I said. I was proud of myself for keeping my voice even and remembering my manners.

“Please, call me Ana. We like to keep on a first name basis in the office. It helps to foster and maintain a creative atmosphere. Save the ‘Mister’ and ‘Missus’ for the meetings with clients.” Ana gestured around the fountain and I followed her through the lobby and to the elevators. Six total waited to take us and other employees of the different Lennox Enterprise subsidiaries up to their offices.

Everyone appeared tailored and groomed, perfect in their appearance. I looked down to my own clothes, a simple, modest pantsuit, and open jacket with a white button down suit underneath. It and the seven similar outfits were all very nice, probably the nicest clothes I had ever owned, bought with the very generous sign-on advance that I received.

My brown hair was pulled back neatly into a wrapped bun, and I had spent an hour in front of the mirror to make sure that my makeup was as smooth and flawless as I could make it.

Next to Ana and the other beautiful men and women I saw waiting on the elevators, I felt plain and simple. I kept my mind focused on the qualifications that had won me the coveted Creative Assistant position and tried to keep my nerves calm. As the elevator doors opened, Ana’s words caught up to me.

“I’m going to be meeting with clients?” I watched Ana step onto the elevator. Around me, others moved in as well.

“Yes,” Ana gave me another of her warm smiles and gestured, “and if you want to meet your team, you should probably get in the elevator now.”

I nodded and stepped in, easing between Ana and another young woman as the doors to the crowded elevator closed. I was not expecting client meetings. I thought that I would simply be in the background, one of the many cogs working to make the creative team function and flow. Mr. Cavanaugh had certainly not mentioned client meetings.

My center of gravity moved down as the elevator jetted upward, as though caught in a sudden draft. The sensation was dizzying, and I felt disoriented as the elevator arrived to the first of its floors. I inched around as others began to move out of the elevator car and onto their floor.

Ana gave me a sympathetic look. “It took me a year to get used to them. I still hate these elevators. It is worse going down.”

I swallowed hard. Another young woman nodded in agreement with Ana as the elevator began its rapid ascent again. I would be in here for another fifteen floors. Lennox Advertising was the crown of Lennox Enterprises, and as such, it was on the top suite of floors and a part of Mr. Lennox’s own offices.

We finished the nightmarish elevator ride with three other passengers, all women, all as beautifully sculpted as Ana. They chatted together happily, as we walked off the elevator and onto our floor. I followed Ana quietly to her office, taking note of the different people that I saw as I walked through the halls.

Everyone here was beautiful. Most of the staff were women, though I noticed a few men. Of the women, most were blonde sprinkled by a few vibrant redheads and dark brunettes, the deep almost black color that I wished my hair had managed to attain. I was stuck with a light, dull color that passed as brown, if you were very kind and generous. The men were as chiseled as the women were and carried themselves with natural confidence.

Even the woman working in the mailroom, diligently separating sealed envelopes and sorting them, was beautiful. She was more shapely than most of the women I saw, with a generous hourglass figure. She smiled as I passed, her cheeks dimpling, and I could not help but return it. I wondered if she offered that smile to everyone, and if anyone could resist its charm.

Ana guided me into her office and one of the very comfortable chairs in front of her desk. She took her own and, on cue, her secretary entered with two cups of steaming coffee and a plate of sweeteners and cream. I thanked her and turned my attention to Ana.

We spent the morning sipping coffee as she briefed me on the same boring corporate details that I had heard while I was an intern at Lellman & White. Ana was thorough, and her voice was even and pleasant, making listening to her easy. We went over the basic office protocols, dress codes, appropriate behaviors, and the importance of attendance and punctuality. She gave me an overview of emergency procedures and showed me how to access the business continuity sight both in the office and from home. She provided me her card – I was to keep it as my first number in my rolodex – in case I ever needed to speak to her about anything at all. She then went over the benefits package, and when everything would kick in.

“There is one more thing.” Ana leaned her elbows on her desk and fixed me with an even look. “Henry Lennox.”

“I won’t bother Mr. Lennox,” I said. I supposed that working in the same office as Henry Lennox had to have an appeal. It seemed that every few months he was on the cover of a magazine or featured in an exclusive spread. “I assume he has a pretty busy day, managing the different companies he owns.”

Ana smirked. “You would be surprised.” She straightened in her chair. “Henry is known to wander the floor. The Advertising wing of his company is his favorite. This is where he began and where he spends most of his time. It is his pride.”

I nodded, understanding. “I will make sure I’m focused and working, so that I –”

Ana shook her head. I was missing something, something that Ana thought should have been apparent. I thought back to my interview with Mr. Cavanaugh and the discussions that we had about my role on his team and in the company. I could not think of what I had missed or overlooked from the conversation. Ana’s eyes softened and she smiled.

“Henry is always available,” Ana said. The gentle and straightforward way she said the word available told me its meaning right away. “Affairs between him and staff in this office are not unusual. They are brief, casual affairs – as casual as such a thing can be. It is important that you understand right away that they are not for personal advancement. They are only pleasure, and nothing more. No raises or promotions follow his attention. If at any point you had in your mind to use an affair for that, please just turn your attention elsewhere.”

With my hands in my lap, I fidgeted, dancing my fingers together. “It never crossed my mind.” I searched for a way to say this and be polite. I sensed a protectiveness in Ana’s words, as if she was looking out for Mr. Lennox as much as looking out for me. Was it a friendship between them, or perhaps another young woman who did once think an affair would get her special favors? I realized it could be both. A direct approach would probably be the best. “Men like Mr. Lennox are not my type.”

Ana laughed and her eyes shone bright. “Of course he is your type.” Her laugh stopped, but the amusement did not leave her eyes. “Henry is every woman’s type. That is exactly the point of men like him.”

A knock sounded at the door. It opened, and Mr. Cavanaugh peered in. He was a handsome man, in his mid-thirties with neatly trimmed brown hair that was beginning to see visits by flecks of grey. He gave me a smile and turned his attention to Ana.

“Are we ready to meet the team?” he asked as he stepped into the office.

Ana looked at me. “Do you have any other questions for me?”

I shook my head. “No, I think I’m ready to get started.”

Ana offered me her hand again and we stood. “Perfect. Then welcome to Lennox Advertising. I know you are going to make a wonderful addition to Michael’s team.”

Ana walked me out of her office and left me with Mr. Cavanaugh. He asked me about my morning, and if I had questions for him before I met the team. I gave him a brief overview of my conversation with Ana, and that I felt confident and ready – that was partly true. I was nervous, but there was no point delaying anything. I did not tell him about the part of the conversation about Mr. Lennox. I was not sure if it would be appropriate to discuss with him, and decided not to take that chance. I thought about Ana’s words, that Mr. Lennox was every woman’s type. As I looked at Mr. Cavanaugh, I could not disagree more. He was more the type of man that I would be attracted to, were he not my direct manager anyway.

“My first rule is to please call me Michael, not Mr. Cavanaugh.” Michael smiled and led me up a flight of stairs to the second level of the office suite. “My second is to feel free to socialize with your team. If you can laugh together, you can create together. As long as deadlines are met, I am flexible about your lunches, but I do ask that you come in on time in the mornings. We have a quick creative meeting every morning and it is important that you attend.”

“Be on time in the mornings. Meet my deadlines so that I can take a longer lunch, and call me Michael.” I smiled at him as he looked back at me from the stairway. He returned the smile and I felt a small warmth in the center of my stomach. Definitely, the kind of man I could fall for. “I can handle that.”

“Good.” As we reached the top of the stairs, he gestured to a set of double doors. “Let’s go and meet your new team. I did take the liberty of showing them your internship portfolio from Lellman & White, so they are really excited to meet you.”

My nervousness returned, but I kept my shoulders back and my head straight as he led me through the double doors. My work at Lellman & White had been good, but part of that was because I was inspired by the chance opportunity to hear something the client had said, something that had sparked a creative fire. I was proud of my work and terrified that it was the expectation of all my future endeavors. It was going to be hard to live up to it.

He led me into the team office, and I was struck by the layout. On one side of the room, desks were situated perpendicular to the wall, each with a lamp and wide enough for papers and sketches to be strewn about, which they were. On the other side of the room was a round table with several chairs around it. Here, the team was gathered, all women and all beautiful. Of the five, four were blonde. One sported deep red hair, the kind that only comes from a box that looked incredible against her creamy skin. They leaned over papers, chatting happily, as we entered the room.

Between the table and the desks, situated against the back wall of this open office was one final desk, which I assumed to be Michael’s desk. It was neat and tidy, a complete contrast to the other desks in the room.

Michael led me up to the table and cleared his throat in order to get everyone’s attention. The women turned, and each one of them was as beautiful as every other face I had seen in the office so far. Perfectly symmetrical faces, soft lines; they each had a graceful smile that broadened at the sight of me. Under their gaze, I felt frumpy and self-conscious.

“Ladies, please meet Stacy Caldwell.” He paused and waited for every to utter their hellos to me. Then, gesturing around the table, starting with the redhead and working his way around the blondes, he introduced them. “Lillian White, Tina Abernathy, Karla Levin, Michelle Gordon, and Wendy Smith. This is going to be the ad team you will be working with.”

“It’s nice to meet you all.” I felt stupid for saying such canned words, but before my self-consciousness could grow, they pulled me into their group and conversation erupted.

My attention was drawn from them to the pictures covering the tables, models in various outdoor action-wear, hiking clothes, climbing gear, and even yoga outfits. Any worry about the possibility of a perceived faux pas was quickly discarded as I was bombarded with questions about terminology, target market interest, and if it was important to highlight color choice in the sportswear line.

“It’s not like we haven’t written ad copy for a clothing line before,” Lillian said, looking up at me. “It’s just that this is the first line we have had to do that was not born for a Paris runway.”

I liked these women. I could not be more different from them. I was the new girl in a big office, fresh from college. Yet here they were, turning to me for guidance. Suddenly I felt confident in recreating my work from my intern portfolio. It was not inspiration that they needed. If the mess on their desks was any indication – it usually was when it came to creative talent – they had inspiration in droves. What they needed was my experience working with outdoor clothing. Between my portfolio and my hobbies, I had that in spades.

“You just have to think of the outdoors as the Paris runway,” I said, gesturing to the photo of the yoga gear. “High fashion belongs in New York and Paris. This belongs in the gym.” I pulled over the hiking gear. “This belongs on the Appalachian trail. That belongs on a mountain.” I pointed to the climbing outfit.

“We could have a model suspended on a cliff face.” Karla’s eyes widened. “In profile, we could show off the model’s curves very nicely.”

I laughed as we began brainstorming ideas over the pictures. Lunch came in to us, trays of Chinese and Sushi to mix and match. We balanced plates on our hands as we discussed the different products of the clothing line, and what ways we could bring them to life. By the time our plates were emptied of food, I realized that these women had completely welcomed me. I was part of their team.

By the afternoon, as work was winding down and we were preparing for our rush-hour trips home, I understood with that welcome came inclusion, something I was not used to from women as attractive as they were.

“Have you met Mr. Lennox yet?” Wendy asked as she began gathering up photographs.

“I haven’t had the pleasure,” I said. Michelle’s eyes glazed over, and I realized my double entendre.

“Expect to be flirted with,” Karla said.

“In the office?” I tried to imagine that. When I was in high school, I worked part time at a fast food restaurant. Another high school student was in the habit of flirting with the girls from his place at the fry cook station. None of us minded the flirtation. He was cute, and he never said anything crass. Our shift manager, on the other hand, took it upon himself to educate him with three hours of sexual harassment videos.

Of course, who would be pulling aside Mr. Lennox for education? I tried to picture Ana doing so, but that idea quickly faded as her warnings and advice came to mind. Obviously, HR did not mind.

“It’s flattering,” Michelle said. “You get a compliment on your work, and a reminder that you’re a beautiful woman.”

Michelle’s lashes fluttered over her blue eyes, and I wondered why in the world she would need the reminder. She had to have a mirror she dressed in front of every day. None of these women carried themselves in a way that would suggest they doubted their attractiveness. Perhaps, I thought, it was just a matter of getting away from the cold, sterile behavior expected in an office.

Tina glanced back to Michael as he sat at his desk. “We can tell you stories if you want to join us for drinks downstairs.”

Normally office gossip was something I would ignore, but I felt caught up in the inclusion. I nodded happily. We finished cleaning up the planning table. I familiarized myself with my desk, realizing that I had not even looked at it since walking into the office. Tomorrow, I would take a little time to arrange myself, since this would be my workspace once brainstorming was finished. It would have to wait until then. The girls were chattering away for me to join them. I waved back to Michael as we walked out and followed them downstairs.

Two

The Bluepointe lounge was crowded, but somehow we managed to secure a large high top near the bar. I was starting to suspect that a drink and appetizer here was a common way to wait out rush hour traffic. We each ordered a round of drinks and a sampler to share. Before any stories began, I was bombarded with questions about myself. My team seemed genuinely interested in me, and I found it easy to answer their questions.

Half way down our drinks, Tina decided to start the stories.

“It was my first week here,” Tina tapped her chin. “It’s when I was on Angela’s team. Mr. Lennox came by to see us, and started with his smile. He might have had my underwear down by the time he was leaning on my desk.”

“Oh shut up,” Michelle tapped Tina playfully on the arm. “He doesn’t do anything but flirt in the office.”

“In the office maybe,” Wendy said. “His elevator is another matter. We were half way down and he was half way up my skirt.”

Lillian shook her head, a twisted smile on her lips. “He told me he wanted strawberry lemonade. I thought at first, he just wanted a drink. Then he brought Linda and I,” Lillian paused and leaned closer to the table, “she’s got this thick, golden hair. She’s on maternity leave now, she got married last year. Anyway, he brought us to his condo so that he could have us both at the same time. He would take turns going down on us, and then I realized what he meant by strawberry lemonade.”

I found myself wondering if she took the time to dye the hair between her legs, or if she was a natural shade of red as well, and started blushing.

Karla started laughing and patted me gently on the back of the hand. “You can stop us any time we make you uncomfortable.”

The idea of admitting what brought on my blush only made my face feel hotter. I shook my head, took a sip of my drink, and let the alcohol warm and calm me. “It’s okay. If this really is a regular thing, I’m going to have to get used to hearing the stories.”

Tina nodded. “When it’s your turn, just be frank with him about what you are okay with. Mr. Lennox likes it rough, tie you up, and whip you with a flogger. I got so caught up in what was going on, I ended up with a welt on my ass that would not go away for a week.”

I winced, trying to picture how hard a strike would have to be to do that. I remembered my grandmother spanking me with a switch when I was a child. It left a mark that was gone the next morning. I could not imagine having a mark that lasted a week.

“She couldn’t sit down,” Michelle said. “I felt really bad for her.”

Tina shrugged her shoulders. “It’s what safe words are for. My fault for not using it.”

“You weren’t upset that you got hurt?” I asked.

“You don’t leave a night with Mr. Lennox upset,” Michelle said. Tina nodded in agreement. “It can get rough, and sometimes it hurts. He doesn’t do anything you don’t want him to, and everything you want to feel.”

As we finished our drinks and nibbled at the plate of appetizers, I listened to them exchange their stories. Every woman at the table had an encounter with Mr. Lennox at some point, typically soon after joining the company. Lillian and Karla had the opportunity for repeat encounters, something that everyone acknowledged was rare. For Lillian, it was her willingness to take part in a threesome. Karla was a masochist who was happy to let him flog her for a few hours.

The stories entranced me. Mr. Lennox seemed to balance his dark desires for pain with their need for pleasure, taking them to limits, and pulling back. I had heard of stories like that, but never with the kind of detail that they shared. In college, those stories were always, “I read this,” or “did you hear what happened to So-and-so after Friday’s party.” They were offering me firsthand accounts of situations that I wanted to find revolting. Instead, I felt tantalized.

Then there were their reactions to each other. I was so used to girls like them – or at least girls who were attractive like them – shooting daggers at each other, even at me on occasion. It marked my experiences through high school and college. If two girls so much as looked at the same boy, the daggers were out. For them, the experience was a rite of passage or a badge of pride. There was no jealousy. They did not compare stories to one up each other.

Their expectation that I would accept Mr. Lennox’s advances was not odd to me. I thought of Ana’s words. He was “every woman’s type.” What amazed me was the expectation that he would as quickly and easily make the offer to a girl like me as any of them. Sure, I could stand toe to toe with them at the brainstorming table. Beauty was not the only thing these women had. They had talent, and mine was a match for them. My looks were not, and I could not imagine Mr. Lennox singling me out in a room of any of them, except as someone to pass over.

Three

The week passed quickly, and any thoughts of meeting Mr. Lennox, or how I would react if he did decide to flirt with me were pushed from my mind. My focus was on the project, since the client would be in on Friday to see our initial ideas. Between the constant brainstorming sessions and my growing nerves at having to stand face to face with a client, I could not think of him.

Friday morning, I decided that my nerves would simply have to go to the side. I had suggested, quietly, that I could sit out the meeting and get a head start on concept art. That was quickly hushed. My presence was expected because I was part of the team, and it was just something that I was going to have to accept.

As I came into the office, Michael gathered everyone together for the morning brainstorm and pep talk. He was as nervous about the meeting with the client as I was, and that was a relief. He gave me a smile that made me feel warm, and I could not help but return it. Was it flirting, or just reassurance? I decided either one was good.

Michael focused us on preparing for the meeting and retired to his own desk to review projects and plan. The rest of us exchanged ideas on how best to present the ad proposal to our client in order to bring him in. I was hardly aware of the door to our office opening until I saw the wistful look on Michelle’s face.

I turned around to see Mr. Henry Lennox enter the office, his head high, his shoulders back, and a slight but strong swagger in his step. His black hair was brushed neatly black and his green eyes sparkled. This was a man who knew just what he owned. He was at the top of the world and the top of his game. At eighteen, he was recognized as one of the advertising geniuses. At twenty-four, he had turned that genius into one of the most successful advertising start-ups in the country. Twenty years later, he was sitting at the top of a multi-national media conglomerate.

I turned back to the work at hand, and realized that while Mr. Lennox was here, my teammates were not going to be completely focused. Each of them seemed to take turns noticing him, offering him almost worshipful doe-eyes. I would have sighed and rolled my eyes, except for my knowledge that their infatuation came, in part, from their experiences with him.

“How are my loveliest ladies this morning?” Mr. Lennox walked up to our table and stood behind and between Lillian and me.

“We’re doing wonderful, Mr. Lennox,” Tina cooed. At that, I did roll my eyes, and Karla giggled at me.

“You must be Ms. Caldwell.” Mr. Lennox reached down and took my hand in his. Before I could say anything, he kissed the back softly and released it. The gesture was courteous and quick. It was also possessive and assuming. It was just the kind of flirtation that I imagined a man like him making.

“It’s nice to meet you,” I said. I tried to meet his eyes, and found that I could not manage it. I realized a girl could get lost in them, and I did not want to be that girl. I turned my attention back to the pages of concept art on the table.

“Beautiful,” Mr. Lennox said as he leaned in next to me.

I smiled. His attention was drawn to the art, good. “Thank you. This one is Karla’s idea for the climb shot and the accompanying sportswear. We’ve all been working really hard on these.”

I glanced up at Karla to see her smiling at me.

“I wasn’t talking about the pictures,” Mr. Lennox said evenly.

I could feel his eyes on me and felt perplexed by Karla’s smile. Did she think his flirting was cute? I quickly moved around the table, putting Tina and Wendy between us. When I glanced back up at Mr. Lennox, his green eyes darkened, and I could tell that he understood the rejection he just received. I braced myself for what would follow.

“Yes, these pictures are great too. Michael has shown me the work; I think our client will be impressed.” Mr. Lennox’s eyes captured mine and would not let go. I felt terrified. “You’ve been a real asset to the team. You should be proud of your work so far.”

His eyes released me, and he turned his attention to Michael, walking over to his desk. As the two men discussed the upcoming afternoon visit, my teammates drew me back to them. When I turned back, Michelle’s eyes were wide and Lillian looked amazed.

“I have never seen anyone do that before,” Tina leaned in over the table and whispered.

“Do what?” I felt strange and confused.

“Turn down Mr. Lennox,” Karla said. “Everyone fawns over him.”

I swallowed hard and glanced back at Mr. Lennox as he leaned over Michael’s desk to look at something. “He seemed to take it well.”

I turned back to the girls to see Lillian smiling. “For now, but I doubt he will give up the chase. Men like to go after what they can’t get.”

I shook the encounter off and decided to refocus, bringing the team back with me. Talk of flirtations and turndowns could wait for after dinner drinks. We finished talking about plans until lunch, where they regaled me with more stories of Henry Lennox conquests. Somehow, the stories helped me relax from the office flirt, and I was able to put it from my mind by the time we met with the client.

Joseph Stafford was not an easy man to please. He had a reputation for chewing up ad proposals. He looked for organic concepts. He wanted campaigns that would feature his clothing before gimmicks. Fashion, in his philosophy, sold itself. If an article of clothing required a catchy line to be pulled off the rack, then it should not be there in the first place.

We presented the proposal to him, focusing on the concept art first, what we envisioned for model photos featuring different articles from the clothing line. When Mr. Stafford looked pleased – that is to say, he did not throw anything down in disgust – we introduced the text to go with the print ads or as voice over for television spots. He listened carefully, comparing words to pictures to get the full idea.

By the end of the meeting, we were all relaxed and I was amazed. Mr. Stafford pulled out three pictures from the concept art. He wanted to see changes, incorporating more elements from them. They were my contributions, and I felt elated that my work had been singled out by someone known to be so picky about his ad campaigns. Michael took final notes of the changes Mr. Stafford wanted to see, and after he left, we all celebrated a successful meeting.

I was elated. As we wrapped up our afternoon, I received congratulations around the table that my work was singled out by Mr. Stafford. Even though my professors had told me to expect success if I applied my talents, I never dreamed my first assignment at my first job would go like this. My head was spinning, and I felt dizzy with the excitement of it all.

Tonight there would not be drinks. Everyone had plans with family or significant others. It seemed I was alone in having my Friday night free, but I had wanted it that way. I knew I would be too tired to attempt anything. Tomorrow night, I would be going out with my friends from college. I straightened my desk, tossing discarded ideas into the garbage and waving to everyone as they left. Lillian was the last out, wishing me a good weekend.

“You had a good day today.” Michael walked up to my desk.

“Thank you.” I took hold of my purse and turned off my desk lamp. “We all worked really hard.”

“You especially. You really put everything into this proposal, which is why I wanted to talk to you.” Michael paused and rubbed his hands together. I felt like a shoe was about to drop, but I could not fathom what could possibly be going wrong. The team was welcoming. They were proud that my work had been singled out and seemed excited about making the changes Mr. Stafford had requested. “I noticed that you had turned away Mr. Lennox’s advances earlier today and that is, worrisome.”

My blood ran cold. I thought of Ana’s warnings to me about trying to use Mr. Lennox’s attention for my own personal gain. She had mentioned nothing about consequences if I turned him down.

“Mr. Lennox takes his business very seriously. This is his life, built from the ground up by his hands. Even the building we are standing in was erected just for him. Now, I would never tell you what to do with your personal life but I know that Mr. Stafford wants you having a more active, up front role in the project. Now the girls seem happy to let you shine in the spotlight, which I think is great. For me, I have to look at more than just teammates sharing glory. You are new, and I’m happy to let you shoulder that responsibility, but I need to know that you are a team player.”

I could not move. I wanted to. I wanted to bolt right out of the office, screaming down the hall. My feet felt like weights, and no part of my body seemed to work. I could not believe what I was hearing from Michael. I got his point, as plain as if he told me flat out that I should invite Mr. Lennox into my bed. I wanted to slap him, and that seemed to give my body the ability to move again.

“I hope we’re both on the same page,” Michael gave me the same smile I saw from him every day. Only now, it did not seem kind and subtly flirtatious. It was hungry and demanding.

“We are,” I said.

I turned and walked out of the office. I did not want stand in there with him for another moment. I stormed down the stairs and through the hall to the elevator lobby, thankful that most of the rest of the staff had cleared out for an early Friday. I pressed the button and waited. I had never in my life wanted to hear the ding of an elevator so badly.

I heard footsteps move from hardwood to the stone tile floor of the lobby. I turned, daggers in my eyes, to see Mr. Lennox walking with his slight, confident swagger. When he saw me, his eyes grew wide, and he stopped abruptly. I realized what I had just done and softened my expression, stammering out a greeting.

“You look like someone who could use a drink before she takes on Friday traffic.” Mr. Lennox seemed to ignore my clumsy attempts and pleasantries, and I found myself thankful for a change.

“Maybe,” I said.

Mr. Lennox nodded his head. “Why don’t you join me down there? You can relax and I can get to know a little something about Lennox Advertising’s newest member.”