Kate stood on the pavement outside the three-storey terraced property in a very upmarket part of town and sighed. What on earth was she doing here? Pride, or was it arrogance? When she’d agreed to this it had been to prove a point. Her boss, her editor, Moira had asked her if there was anything she wouldn’t write a story on, and she had said there wasn’t, boasted that there was nothing off limits to her. Moira bloody Payne, Payne by name, pain by nature had smiled that smug expression that became fixed to her face as she accepted the challenge.
Staring up at the imposing building, Kate considered the question again; was there anything she wouldn’t investigate and write about? Child abuse, done it. Scandals within the clergy, done it. Sex trafficking, done it. Fraud, done it. Drug barons, done it. Organised crime, done it. Bent coppers, politicians, judges, she’d done them too. Her articles had been based on fact and months of research and been acclaimed by readers of the publications she’d worked on and her peers. She truly believed that as long as she knew she had exposed the bad guys and maybe helped the good ones she could sleep soundly at night and take her pay at the end of the month with a clear conscience, but this?
The magazine she currently worked on had begun to become a little more tabloid, focusing on the sleazier side of everyday life, which usually meant sex. Kate liked sex, so what was the problem? She was now the problem, there was no real need for this story and she felt a huge sense of discomfort and potentially she was doing her career and professional reputation damage; she’d only taken this job six months ago to escape the associated dangers of the seedier side of journalistic investigation, like the death threats she’d received after exposing drug dealers.
She had been respected for what she’d done previously, and she’d worked for Moira before, so when she’d offered her a move, a move to safety, she’d jumped at it. That justified what she was about to do, didn’t it? The fact that Moira had asked her to do this, well goaded her into doing it, she was just paying her boss back for her rescue mission, wasn’t she?
What the hell was she doing agreeing to meet an abusive pervert in his very grand and expensive house on a wet Monday night when she could be at home, warm and wet in bed with Aiden. She smiled at the thought of Aiden, but her smile quickly faded and was replaced with a frown as she thought of how they’d fought over the last few weeks, probably months and when they weren’t arguing they just existed in a state of apathy, unless they were having sex, when she simply used him to gain physical release and satisfaction from his body, and gave him the same in return. She pushed him from her mind and instead thought of work and several deep breaths later she was at the top of the steps, at the front door, waiting for her knock to be answered.
Kate looked at the young woman who answered the door, who must have been around twenty-two or twenty-three years old with a combination of amusement and shock. She stood before Kate wearing a French maid’s outfit, but it seriously reminded Kate of an outfit she’d once worn to a cheesy fancy dress party at uni. The woman stood at around five and a half feet with heels of about five inches. She wore fishnet stockings, and she knew they were stockings because she could see the suspenders holding them in place just below the little skirt with far too many petticoats underneath and a white apron over it. The top of the dress was cut low so that the ample chest of the young woman was barely covered. Kate did a second and then a third take because she was sure that she could see one of the girl’s nipples protruding from the top of the dress. Her look was completed with a matching cap and a black leather collar.
“May I help you, miss?” the young woman asked with a hint of a French accent, a genuine one thought Kate.
“Yes, of course. I’m Kate Milner. I’m here to see Marcus Reynolds,” said Kate trying to sound confident even though she felt far from it.
“Of course, mademoiselle.” She slipped into French briefly then stepped aside with a gesture for Kate to enter the house.
She did so nervously, and looked around the high white walls and grey marble floors of the hall and shifted from one foot to the other whilst scraping her bottom lip with her top teeth, a nervous habit from her childhood.
“This way s’il-vous-plait,” chirped the maid as she led Kate along a corridor where she escorted her into a lounge at the back of the house and left her there alone.
Kate was surprised by the wooden panelled walls and well worn, soft, brown leather sofas; it all seemed a little too comfortable for Marcus, or at least the Marcus she had in her mind. She immediately noticed a lack of personal photos or ornaments and wondered whether this man had friends or a family. She frowned at herself, realising that everyone had a family, not always a large or close one, but a family nevertheless, we all come from somewhere she told herself. In her head she had already built a picture of Marcus Reynolds and he was big, tall and broad with dark hair and even darker brooding eyes, cruel eyes. He was essentially a bully. She knew that without seeing or meeting him. She only needed to know what he was, to know that to be true. She sat on the edge of one sofa, nearest the open fire and despite the warmth of the flames she shivered with nervousness and a little fear. Thinking back to the maid, not that she was a real maid, clearly, Kate wondered what she was to the master of the house, beyond the obvious; was she his wife, girlfriend or just his little sex slave. Another shudder passed over Kate as she began to think, about anything not involving kinky practices. She just needed to do the interview, write it up and walk, no, run the fuck away.
After about forty minutes Kate had got to her feet and was ready to walk out. Marcus Reynolds was the only pervert that had been willing to meet with her and was obviously very rich, but he was no longer fashionably late, or even planning on making a grand entrance, he was rude and her time was as precious as his, her free time, her Aiden time that had been in short supply of late causing more problems between them. Kate turned towards the door and jumped as she came face to face with the very rude Mr Reynolds, well more face to chest as he towered over her.
As Kate’s mouth dried, she simply stared up at him. She felt inadequate, a feeling that was as unfamiliar as it was distasteful. He seemed to fill the doorway; he stood at around six feet, maybe a couple of inches more compared to her five feet two inches, although she wore heels tonight giving her an additional four inches. He was broad at the shoulders and she imagined firm and ‘naturally’ muscular with a narrow waist yet broad.
She gazed across his body, a very beautiful body and finally her eyes settled on his face again; the square jaw, the blonde hair that appeared to be overdue a haircut as it danced across his collar and the iciest of blue eyes, like mountains or natural expanses of Icelandic water. Her original image of dark hair and eyes couldn’t have been more wrong. She imagined an accusing sounding buzzer as if she was on a quiz show, the sound indicating how erroneous her mental image of him had been. Although, as she fixed her gaze on his eyes, they did look cruel in the cold and distant way, so maybe half a point. So embroiled in her imaginary quiz show appearance was Kate that she almost didn’t notice that he was extending an open hand towards her. A hand she eagerly accepted. Up close, she was unable to hold his stare so allowed her own eyes to drop to his hand in hers. Or was it hers in his? What the hell was the matter with her? She needed to pull herself together, get her story, give this arsehole some shit in the process then ship out.
“Miss Milner, thank you for waiting, an urgent matter arose,” he told her with a smile that made her heart sing and her soul quake at what he could do to her with a few words and a smile. He was seriously dangerous, possibly more dangerous than most of the gangsters she’d ever met.
“No problem,” she told him with a quiet lie.
“Well, it evidently was as you were preparing to leave.” He stared down into her eyes.
“Sorry,” she muttered cursing herself now as she felt he had gained a further advantage over her by apologising to him when she should have been honest and said ‘yes, it had been a problem’. “I was preparing to leave, but I accept your apology.”
“I don’t recalling offering you an apology, but maybe I can get you a drink and we can start again.” His warm smile melted any resolve that was left to be annoyed with him, for anything.