Hired for Secrets

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The woman I desire

Sofie rejected Philip’s olive branch. She did not need to build trust, all she needed was leverage. It’s better to be feared than loved; it yields more consistent results. And with the hidden cameras placed in Philip’s suite, coming across the right leverage was only a matter of time. That is, if they worked.

As soon as Sofie arrived back at her car she pulled out her phone to dial up the cameras. She stared anxiously at the black screen, while the dial was spinning to establish the connection. What if they didn’t work? What if she did something wrong in her haste to install them? It would have all been for nothing! Worse, she would lose access to Philip for good. The thought of never talking to him again made her heart flutter, for more than just her professional reasons. Stop it right there! As a cold-blooded journalist, she relied on facts and technology. Emotions were an unnecessary distraction. As if to confirm her credibility and conviction, the camera connected and the screen came to life.

Music filled the inside of Sofie’s car. Her phone was the window into Philip’s room, and it relayed Damien Rice’s voice singing ‘No love, no glory. No hero in her skies’.

Philip was sitting in his armchair, swirling a brandy in his hand. He stared at the couch on which Sofie had moments ago experienced pure euphoria.

Log out! Philip’s night is starting soon and you’ve got a long drive ahead of you.

Her thumb hovered over the disconnect button. But for some reason she found it difficult to let go. She could still feel his hands weaving their magic across her body. And she wanted to relive the feeling for just a moment longer.

The cameras are working, god dammit. No need to dwell.

The song continued, ‘I can’t take my eyes off you’, as Sofie watched Philip take another sip of brandy and lean back. He rolled his head to the side and massaged the back of his neck; there was a tension in him that Sofie could feel all the way out to the parking lot. He was contemplating something.

Don’t go there. Whatever he is thinking about is not your problem!

With a sigh Sofie pressed the dial-out button, just as the string instruments cut to their solo. She had to leave now if she wanted to be home in time for Philip’s evening engagement.

She was already cutting it fine and the unusually bad traffic made her even later. All the way from the highway exit to her home she anguished over missing the talking part of the evening and logging into finding Philip and his client in bed already.

She slammed the front door shut, kicked off her shoes and connected to the hallway camera, just in time to see Philip walking in. He had changed into formal attire. A black suit, white shirt, buttoned up to the top, sharp and crisp. He looked exquisite and Sofie felt a little breathless. Or was that from running up two flights of stairs?

He would have been appropriately dressed for the opera or a gala dinner, yet all this splendor was to entertain the beautiful woman by his side. She was in her forties. An elegant white silk dress flowed over her long legs, and a low cut back revealed her toned body. Philip touched the small of her back as she walked through the door, lightly stroking her bare dusk-colored skin. She flicked her wavy black hair and smiled at him as soft piano music played from the bedroom. This scene could not have been more perfect if it was designed for a romantic bollywood movie.

Sofie’s lips turned into a thin line. They looked absolutely stunning together. And even worse, she recognized the woman. It was Ms Hunt, a second generation Briton from Indian descent and the youngest CEO to run a $30 billion insurance company. She was rich, successful and … not married.

“He plays music for her! He never did that for you!” a sore little voice whined in her head. With a firm shake she reminded herself that this was a job and that Philip’s only value was as her informant.

Sofie switched over to the second camera in the bedroom. The higher resolution camera filled her whole screen and showed their faces in brilliant detail. Ms Hunt looked relaxed and happy. It was an intimate glimpse at the private person behind the stern and perpetually annoyed businesswoman the media portrayed her to be.

“What would you…”

Philip stopped mid-sentence and looked up. There was a puzzled look on his face. He must have noticed something? But what? The camera was well hidden. His eyes scanned across the wall shelf, swiping across the camera several times before finally stopping and glaring at Sofie straight through the lense of her spy cam. Her heart stopped.

He spotted the camera! How did he do that?

With an annoyed expression he walked straight to the shelf and reached out.

Oh, No, No, No, No.

But instead of grabbing the camera, his hand reached for the volume dial of the stereo.

“Sorry, the music was a bit loud,” he explained before turning to the minibar and pouring Ms Hunt a glass of red wine. “So, how was your royal commission hearing today? Did it go well?”

“How sweet of you to remember,” Ms Hunt beamed. She seemed genuinely delighted by Philip’s interest in her life. “Yes, it went very well actually. They were good, I have to give them that. Came prepared with some hard questions.” With a triumphant smile she sank onto the couch. ”But I was better.”

“What do you mean ‘better’?”

“Well, they obviously were out to expose the skeletons in our closets,” she laughed, “Everybody knows that to outwit the banks you have to bend a rule or two. But they couldn’t prove any of it!”

Sofie’s journalistic bones itched; she could already see the headline: Fortune 500 CEO confesses to illegal practices. Philip would be a true treasure trove, if only he talked to her. Once he talked, she corrected herself with a smile.

“We’ve been doing this for 25 years,” Ms Hunt continued, “and our official books are solid. So the only way they would have gotten evidence is through internal informants. But I tied everyone down good,” she grinned as she slipped out of her shoes and placed a beautifully manicured foot on Philip’s thigh. “Including you.”

He took her foot and gently started massaging her sole.

“That you have, Ms Hunt,” he said, adding in a lower tone, “in more ways than one.”

“Yes, and I still cannot believe my luck.”

Ms Hunt pressed a hand over her eyes, smiling at him from under her lowered gaze. What was she doing? Was she being shy?

“I feel the same,” he breathed, gliding his hands up her leg.

The woman who braved a royal commission without batting an eyelid, started blushing and giggling like a schoolgirl. How is this possible? What kind of witchcraft is he practicing?

“Let’s say we move this along,” she exhaled, sliding along the sofa to his side.

“You had a hard day today,” he replied, standing up before she could touch him, “how about, I give you a show.”

“Oh, I like the sound of that.”

She leaned back and took a sip of her wine.

“And I like having the eyes of the woman I desire on me,” he smiled while slipping out of his jacket.

Sofie could not help but feel excited too. She’d wondered one too many times how he looked without his shirt. She zoomed the camera in on Philip, giving her an even better view than Ms Hunt. He unfastened the buttons of his white shirt, one by one, revealing his muscular torso. As the smooth fabric slipped off his shoulders, Sofie’s fingers twitched. She yearned to run her hand over his perfectly groomed chest. It looked silken and smooth, with just enough hair to accentuate his sculpted pecs and form a hint of a line running from his navel to his belt.

Sofie’s breath caught. It’s been hours, but she could still smell his scent and feel the ghost of his fingers pleasuring her. How could he have such a command over her body, from miles away and while being with another woman.

As if he could hear her thoughts he looked at the camera and gave it a wink. After a blur of motion Sofie’s monitor cut to white and the speakers emitted a loud rustling noise. With shock Sofie realized that Philip had covered the camera with his shirt and was ripping it off its powersource.

With one final crack the screen turned black, displaying ‘connection lost’ in bright red letters across her monitor and Sofie found herself back in her room. Sitting alone in the dark. Still wearing her outdoor jacket and holding her car keys. In stunned silence, she let sink in what just happened.

He obviously had spotted the camera and wasn’t just adjusting the volume. From then on it had all been an act. For her. But what was his message?

I like having the eyes of the woman I desire on me.

With slightly trembling fingers Sofie logged into the hallway camera, secretly hoping he would evict Ms Hunt and talk to her.

The woman I desire. Sofie wanted that to be her. But as the minutes stretched without activity in the hallway she scolded herself for having even gone there. Just like she wasn’t willing to jeopardize her success at work, neither was he.

Sofie got up from the chair and finally took off her jacket. With one eye on the screen she fixed herself dinner. She got half way through her bland cauliflower gratin when Philip re-appeared on the screen. He walked to the door before stopping dead in his tracks and letting his eyes swipe over the hallway furniture.

No! Not the second camera as well.

“What’s wrong?” Ms Hunt’s soft voice came from off-screen.

Philip focused back on her to smile his warm honeydew smile.

“Something feels different here,” he said almost absentmindedly while giving the hall one last aimless swipe.

“I’ll tell you what’s different...” Stepping into the scene, Ms Hunt placed her slender hand on his cheek. “It was you. You were absolutely spectacular tonight.”

She reached up to pull him into a long kiss.

Sofie’s stomach tightened. Seeing him actually be intimate with another woman made her lose all appetite. She pushed her dinner away. This could be a hungry couple of weeks, if she felt like this with all of his engagements.

“I didn’t think sex with you could get any better,” Ms Hunt breathed, “but seeing you being lost in your release adds a whole new dimension. And I really like it. Next time, let’s do it again. That way you can practice calling my name,” she laughed, adding with a wink, “though, I don’t mind being Sofie, if you make it up to me like that every time.”

Excuse me, what was that? Did she hear that right? He called out her name while having sex with Ms Hunt? This was getting more twisted by the minute. And judging by how uncomfortable Philip looked, this wasn’t one of his carefully planned manipulations.

“We’ll see about that, Ms Hunt.” Philip guided her out the door while placing a small kiss on her shoulder. “For now, I am looking forward to our date in 2 weeks. I’ve booked Elandra’s restaurant for our regular time.”

“Actually, Philip, I’m feeling adventurous. I think I want to be seen with you. After all this bad press, I deserve a bit of self-adulation. You know, having some envious eyes on me. So how about we go to the city instead. There is this new restaurant everyone talks about. It’s at West End... out of all places... and absolutely ...”

The rest of their conversation was cut off by the door closing behind them.

Sofie disconnected the camera. She was disappointed. Overall, tonight was a bust: she lost the main camera before learning anything relevant. While Ms Hunt had dodgy business practices, she was clearly not the leverage Sofie needed to get Philip talking. At least there was one camera left and a whole register of clients for Philip to go through. Time to call it a night and go to bed.

In the dark of her room, pictures of Philip calling out her name in ecstasy flooded her mind and she drifted off to sleep with a smile on her lips.

A persistent buzzing brought her reluctantly back. Her phone on the side table was brightly illuminated. Someone was calling. She groaned and groggily reached for the device, ready to turn it off. But reading the number on the display, she suddenly was wide awake. It was the camera’s SIM card.

How could it be calling her? Who was calling her?

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