The Arrangement

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The Proposition

Once Selene had cried it out, Nick helped her wipe her face off before he bothered with his chest. He didn’t care about that and waved off her apology.

“Do you feel any better,” he asked, brushing some stray hair out of her face.

Selene nodded, taking in a deep breath before she looked up at him. “You don’t think any differently about me?”

Nick cupped her face. “I do,” he began, but hurried to explain as her expression fell. “I think so much more of you now. What you’ve endured and still remain a good and decent person – that takes strength and courage that can only be admired. I think it makes you pretty damn amazing and I appreciate your trusting me with this. I can’t tell you how much it means to me.”

A bright light appeared in her eyes and he saw hope. It pained him to know others had disregarded her because of what had been done to her.

“I will make sure that those people aren’t allowed near you. I am getting you a lawyer and we’ll work out a plan with mine. I’ll get you a publicist person to help field reporters and questions. We will do this together, ok,” he asked, making certain she knew he was serious.

“Nick, that will cost a fortune. I can’t have you do that. I couldn’t even begin to pay you back,” she protested.

The light went off in Nick’s head at that moment, though he wasn’t offering it for the same reasons anymore. “Be my girlfriend,” he blurted out. When he saw the frown, he shook his head. “I mean, my fake girlfriend. You can come with me to events and protect me from the social climbers and leeches. You can live here, we can hang out, you will be closer to work and in a more secure building that will help keep people like your parents out, and in public you act like you’re in love with me and … act like we’re together.”

Selene’s lashes fluttered repeatedly as she seemed to fumble a bit while processing what he just said. Her blank stare told him she wasn’t quite understanding.

“Ok, here’s the thing. I wanted to ask you to do this before, and I’m perfectly willing to give you an allowance so that you can pull it off, but you still live your life and do your thing… I’m not trying to take over your life or anything… I thought it would help get you out of the motel and save up some extra money, since I’m happy to pay you for it and I would need to get you a lawyer and a publicist person anyway...”

Selene put a finger over his lips to stop him. “Let me get this straight. You want me to pose as your girlfriend in public and at these.. parties you go to. In exchange, I live here and you give me money?”

Nick chuckled at himself and nodded. “Basically.”

“What are you getting out of it,” she asked with a deep frown.

“I get not hassled by greedy, selfish women and have someone with me I can actually have a good time with,” Nick explained. “You don’t know how rare that would be for me. Most of my friends are either men or they don’t go to these things. I kind of have to because of my business, so you coming with me would be worth paying for.”

Selene laughed, in spite of everything that had happened in the last half hour so. “You poor guy. All those women bugging you.”

Nick’s brows rose and he swatted at her butt. “I’m serious. It’s tiring. I’ll have at least two try to climb all over me to seduce me. Then I have to have the stink of that perfume they wear on me all night. I’ve had them try to sneak into my apartment and show up at my office trying to seduce me there.”

“That’s just tacky,” Selene responded with a look of distaste. “So, basically, you consider this an equal trade?”

“I consider it as more than equal. I get to have you around all the time. No more empty apartment every night or eating dinner alone. The best part is that I’ll also worry less about your safety, and you will be able to save up a nice bit of money for whatever you decide to do later,” he told her honestly.

“For how long,” she asked with a thoughtful look.

Nick shrugged. “My initial thought was for a year. We get everything written out so you know what to expect and we can negotiate. And, if you decide you’re not happy, I’ll help you set up somewhere else, or whatever you want to do.” Nick bent his head to kiss her brow. “I really like you, Selene. I like having you around and I don’t want to see you hurt. This could work really well for both of us.”

“And, um… sex,” she asked nervously.

“I don’t expect it. That’s all up to you. I will abide by what you choose,” he stated firmly. “You’ve seen I have good self-control. If you want more, I will give you everything,” he continued. “You set all the limits and all the rules. I would like to offer my vote for kissing in public, though,” he added with a slow-forming grin. “That kiss earlier was amazing. I would love to repeat it, I’m not going to deny that.”

Selene grinned and turned her head. He could swear she was blushing. “Ok. I get it!”

“So, what do you say: Be my one and only for the public?”

Selene looked thoughtful for a few moments before she chewed on her lower lip. “And if my parents show up?”

“Then we’ll deal with them,” he said firmly. “I promise you, they won’t find me a pleasant man to deal with,” he warned her with an edge to his voice that warned of danger. “I have access to all sorts of resources and I will do whatever is necessary to keep them away from you and if I can make it permanent, I will.”

Selene tilted her head as a curious thought hit her. Normally hearing someone speak like that make her anxious, but she felt no fear with Nick. There was no concern he would hurt her. After all these years, she’d rarely felt safe anywhere or with anyone. While it terrified her in a completely different way, she realized she’d come to trust him.

“I believe you. I think…,” she chewed on her lower lip nervously as she collected her thoughts. “I think that I would like to do this. I mean, I don’t want to have to leave anymore. I like it here. I’m tired of them coming after me every time I start to find my place somewhere and I have to run again. They’d take me back there and then...”

“I will never allow that to happen,” Nick said harshly. “I will kill them both with my are hands before I would allow that to happen.”

Selene nodded. “I believe you. Ok, Nick. I’ll try this. I like hanging out with you and I do kinda like the apartment. Plus, the bed is really comfortable,” she added with a suppressed smile.

“Oh, I am picked because of the bed? I am wounded,” Nick mock-pouted. “I thought I meant more to you than that?”

Her lips curled into a grin before a giggle slipped. “I do, but the bed is a bonus.”

“It is a good bed,” Nick agreed. “You are always welcome in mine, too,” he added, “for any reason. If you just need to be held, if you’ve had a nightmare – whatever it is. Ok?”

Selene’s smile displayed her gratitude. She wrapped her arms around Nick and hugged him tight. Nick arm’s automatically wound around her in response.

“Thank you. I hope this will really be the end of it and I appreciate everything you’ve done. I can’t tell you how much it means to me. Thank you,” she told him in an emotion-filled voice

“I know I still have a long way to go with you, Selene, but I promise I will always try keep your best interests at heart,” he vowed with barely restrained emotion. He hadn’t been thanked like this often, and it touched him. He knew, too, that she meant every word, which made it all the more meaningful to him.

“Thank you, Nick. I have never had a friend who actually had my back before,” she informed him as she pulled away enough to look at him. “But, I don’t need your money.”

Nick laughed at that and pulled her close again so she could rest her head on his chest. “I know you don’t. However, it will make me feel better to know that, if you leave, you have the resources to take care of yourself. I don’t want you to have to live in a crap motel in the worst part of town because you can’t afford anything better. So, take it to make me feel better.”

Selene chuckled quietly, tilting her head to look up at him. He was smiling at her with a mischievous glint in his eyes.

“Fine,’ she drawled with a sigh and a roll of her eyes. “Will I need to get a safe or something?”

Nick’s face morphed into one of confusion. “What would you need a safe for?”

“To put money in?”

Nick snorted and shook his head. “No. We’ll get you a bank account set up. I’ll also give you one of my cards for expenses – like clothing, shoes, jewelry, and whatever else you need.”

Selene looked at him blankly. “I have clothes and I really don’t need jewelry.”

“Oh, but you will. Remember, you’re posing as my girlfriend. You’ll need nice clothes and shoes for some things. Jewelry – it doesn’t have to be big or flashy, but you’ll want at least a few things. Plus, I know you don’t have much and it’s mostly well-worn. I don’t expect you to start dressing differently; just get some newer things and go to some nice stores for it. Buy yourself a variety of shoes because you can. Spoil yourself a little,” he encouraged. “Buy fancy underwear, get your nails done – whatever you’ve always wanted to but couldn’t.”

Selene chewed on her lower lip as she thought about it. The offer was tempting, but her pride was holding her back. She realized, though, that she was playing a rich man’s girlfriend and those kind of women always seemed to dress nicely. If she was going to play the part, she also needed to look the part.

“Ok,” she agreed slowly, “but just so it looks more convincing.”

“Excellent,” Nick exclaimed in triumph. “I even know someone who can help you, if you would like. She knows all the best stores and the woman is an immaculate dresser. We’ve been friends since high school, so I know she loves shopping and she’s trustworthy. Would you be ok with that?”

Selene laughed and nodded. “I think if I don’t, I’m going to be pretty lost. I usually shop at thrift stores.”

“Then I will call her today and see if she can come on your next day off. Her name is Rachel. She is bi, but I know she will flirt with you, so don’t pay her any mind when it comes to that,” he explained. “I think she is currently dating a couple, but don’t quote me on that. She’s a free spirit and she doesn’t take commitment terribly seriously – at least when it comes to romantic relationships.”

“I am now warned,” Selene responded with amusement. “She sounds like a character.”

Nick hummed an agreement. “I think you’ll like her. If you don’t, she will make it her personal mission to change your mind,” he added, chortling.

Selene smiled, relaxing against him. Inside, the first stirrings of a feeling of safety had formed. There was another emotion she couldn’t identify, but it was pleasant. Whatever was happening her, she hoped beyond hope that this was real and it wouldn’t crumble away as everything else good had done. It was her biggest fear with this – that he would decide he didn’t want her and cast her out as others had done before, or something far worse.

But, she couldn’t afford not to take this chance, in spite of her fears. It wasn’t the money, the apartment, or any of those things. The prospect of being free of her parents, her tormentors and abusers, was something she had to take the risk for. She hadn’t told him everything – but he clearly knew enough to want to help. That was more than she could have ever hoped for.

“Now that we’ve worked all that out, let’s eat,” Nick said with a pat to her back. “I am starving and you need to get something in your system, too.”

Selene nodded, then slipped off his lap and on to her feet. Nick stood and placed his hand on her back, guiding her toward the counter where the food was set out. He made sure she put a reasonable amount of food on her plate before making his own. They made themselves some coffee and then sat down at the table. Before Selene began eating, she picked up the paper with their picture and studied it for a few minutes.

“Can I take this? I like the picture,” she asked.

Nick smiled to himself. “You can have it. I was thinking the same thing, so I’m getting copies from them of all the pictures they have. I thought we could frame a few.”

The smile that came lit up her entire face, even her eyes. “Really?”

“Absolutely,” he confirmed. “They got you smiling and happy. I love it when you smile and I’m addicted to your laugh.”

Selene’s cheeks definitely picked up color at that, and her eyes lowered. Nick reached out to brush his fingers against the side of her face. “You are beautiful. When you smile, you are radiant. If it takes me forever, I will convince you of that.”

Nick hasn’t even realized what he said, but Selene lifted her eyes in question. She searched his eyes for a moment before she nodded. She gave him a soft smile that spoke volumes to him. He pulled his hand back and resumed eating, keeping an eye on her to make sure she ate. It was time that someone took care of her, and he was determined to be the one who did so.

After breakfast, Selene took a nap to recover from the emotional drain from earlier. While she was sleeping, Nick took care of some more phone calls, including one to Rachel. As soon as he explained the situation, she was all in. He spoke to his lawyer for a bit to explain what he wanted and then he called his assistant. She would find him a good person to handle the press for Selene and get in touch with his own publicist. There would need to be a meeting to coordinate efforts to help control the press, their image, and how much information was revealed. His concern was someone digging into her past and putting her pain out for the world to see.

Which would mean they would need to know at least something about what had happened. That was going to be the hard part. He wasn’t going to reveal her secrets, but he knew she wouldn’t want to reveal everything to total strangers. How could they explain it? Child abuse didn’t seem to represent the severity. Forced child prostitution? That was far closer. They would have to discuss it and see what she felt comfortable with.

“Nicholas.”

Dottie’s voice broke into his thoughts and he looked in the direction he heard it come from. She stood in the doorway with a concerned look on her face. When she had his attention, she entered the room and closed the door quietly behind her.

“What’s going on, Dottie?”

“Are you sure about what you’re doing with that girl? You seem to be putting yourself out there pretty far,” she commented. “I heard enough to know she’s got a lot of baggage and it won’t be easy to deal with everything that comes along with it.”

Nick ruffled his hair and took a deep breath. “I am sure that I can’t walk away from her, Dottie. I don’t care if it’s hard. Someone needs to protect her and I care about her far too much to not help her,” he said while looking at her. “I...”

“You’re in love with her,” Dottie said in surprise.

Nick blew out a breath and shook his head. “I don’t know about that. I just know that I need… want her close. I’m tired of this lonely apartment and she makes me feel.. free. Maybe it’s selfish of me, but I like having her around.”

Dottie studied him a few moments and sighed. “Just be careful with her? She seems like a sweet girl and you don’t have the best history with women. You can’t let her down or hurt her.”

“I have no intentions of hurting her, Dottie,” he answered immediately. “She’s not like those women. She’s genuine and honest. Hell, we haven’t even had sex. Believe me, I want to, but I am not pushing her. I want her to come to me on her terms if she wants that.”

Dottie smiled knowingly. “I am going to go get your lunch started, then I’ll get you two some dinner. I’m assuming she’ll still be here?”

Nick nodded and gave her a boyish smile. “She’s moving in.”

Dottie shook her head with a bemused grin. “I’ll start cooking extra, then.”

Nick watched her leave the room and smiled to himself as he thought about it. Every night, he could bring her back here and they can spend some extra time together. That smile earlier had made him weak in the knees. She was so stunning and radiated the pure happiness that was glowing from within her. He wanted to make her smile like that more.

Every day, if possible.

There was more there than he ready to admit, however. He’d discovered BDSM in his early 20’s and discovered that he loved submissive women and desire to have control. There was some guidance from another Dom, who helped him learn about safety and helped him experiment with a variety of fetishes. Over the years, he’d honed his skills. Part of that had to do with reading a woman’s body language. Selene was incredibly submissive, bringing out the Dom in him and causing the need to protect her and keep her safe. Nick knew what was happening subconsciously; he was beginning to want her to be only his,.

Her expression from earlier this morning when he was pushing himself against her flashed in his mind. His cock rapidly began to swell.. Closing his eyes, he allowed himself to replay the memory in his mind. It was pure torment, but he couldn’t help himself. Her moans, whimpers, and that soft whining sound told him how much he affected he sexually and he longed for more. To feel her slick walls clinging to his cock sounded like pure heaven.

Without thinking, his hand lowered to stroke himself through his shorts. His rigid member was standing upright, pressing into the soft cotton and stretching it upward. Soon, it wasn’t enough and he pushed his shorts down enough to grip himself and began to masturbate. His mind was filled with images of Selene and every last sound. It didn’t take long for him to be lost in the fantasies that began. Tying her wrists up and her legs drawn up into the air, spread widely apart where he had full access to her. When he’d pushed her over the edge several times, he’d slide into her and begin to cause her more orgasms before he finally spilled himself deep within her. The idea of her being full of his cum pushed him over the edge and he grit his teeth, groaning loudly as the force of it made his head spin.

When it was over and he could breath again, he cleaned himself up and everywhere else his semen had fallen. Then, he got up to wash off and change into something more appropriate for being out in public. They would have to pick her things up and bring it all back here at some point today before it got too late.

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