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Chapter 19

Amanda was ecstatic. She had just successfully closed a deal with a giant store chain in the Middle East to carry Aglow’s line of beauty essentials. Valerie couldn’t have been more proud.

Her phone rang just when she came out of the conference. She checked the caller’s number. The number was unknown, but she picked up. It was Jo.

“Holy cow, Jo! I thought you’ve lost my number in the shower. What’s up?”

“I was out of the country, you know… work. But I’m back. Wanna hang out?”

“Of course, silly, I’ve missed you. Do you want to come to my office now, we can decide where to go later. I’ll text the address.”

“Sure, I’ll be there in a heartbeat.”

Excited to see her friend again added spring to her steps as she strode back to her office twenty floors up.

Joan, her secretary, met her at the foyer. “There’s a lady here to see you, Miss Fox.”

Amanda jumped when she saw Jo, sipping coffee at the lounge. “Damn, you were already here when you called, weren’t you?” she said.

Jo laughed. “I told you. How many heartbeats did it take for you to get here? I love your office, by the way.”

She pointed at the mural. “Have you seen that?”

Jo turned to check. “It’s an iris flower… nice… I’m sure you paid handsomely for that.”

“It’s a gift, actually… check out who painted it.”

Jo went closer to inspect the painting. “Alex… your Alex?”

“Yep, no less, but he’s just Alex, not my Alex…” she felt a pinch when she said it.

“Sweet! I didn’t know he was an artist.”

“Neither did I until he delivered the painting on my inauguration.”

“Well, I guess Alex had a thing for you since the start, Iris. Look at the strokes and vivid colors on that work, it’s nothing but inspired… even passionate, I’d say.”

“Wait… how did you get here before I even sent you the address?”

“Alex didn’t tell you? We bumped into each other at McSorley’s yesterday and had a few beers. He told me to surprise you, so… here I am.”

“Of course he didn’t tell me… or this wouldn’t have been a surprise. A very good one I think.” She gave her friend a tight hug. “Let’s stop by my apartment first so I can get a change of clothes and freshen up a bit. Then we can go out for dinner.”

“Sounds great.”

Jo suggested the The Poni Room, a quaint little bar in Noho that served delectable seafood dishes with a refreshing glass of rosé.

“This is not my idea of dinner, to be honest, but these oysters are to die for. It goes well with the rosé, too, perfect combination. I should tell Alex about it.”

“Did you notice the room looks a lot like a ship’s hull? It’s genius. I really love this place— it’s cozy, not too many people, and the food is fucking great.”

“So where do you wanna go after?”

“Why don’t we head over to Alex’s place to cap this reunion?” Jo said.

“Ooh, I don’t think he’s up for it tonight. He said he had to do some work and might finish late.”

“How about we just take a peek and check on him. If he’s really busy then we can go some place else.”

“Um… let me call him first.” Amanda didn’t feel like barging into Alex’s place would be a good idea.

“No, no, no, I want to surprise him. Don’t worry, this is on me, okay?” Jo insisted.

“Okay.” She didn’t feel right, but longed to see Alex anyway.

Amanda had Alex’s address but had never set foot at his apartment or studio before. She’d seen it from a suite at the Sheraton, though. She waited for him to invite her, but he never did. She thought maybe he didn’t want her to see the pieces he’s been working on or… someone he’s been working on. Then reprimanded herself for that last thought.

The door to Alex’s studio was wide open when they arrived. Stacks of painted canvasses leaned on the walls, tubes of paint on tables, a bunch of jars with water littered the floor— the place was a stereotypical artist’s studio— a mess.

They followed the voice of Alex as they heard him somewhere deep in the labyrinthine arrangement of furniture and more scattered canvasses. He must be talking to someone over the phone… or he had company.

Amanda congratulated herself for guessing correctly. On the floor, under a big wooden easel, Alex laid naked with a blonde on top of him. He was furious when he saw them. “Hey, what are you doing here? Iris— what the fuck?”

Jo and Amanda giggled as they retreated to a sofa near the kitchenette to wait for him finish his task. Although she thought it was hilarious to catch Alex with his top model, she wasn’t totally amused. She knew about his fornications, but seeing him in the act made her stomach turn, besides the ball of dread that hit her in the gut when Alex threw her an angry stare.

“Are you all right, Iris? You look pale. Didn’t the oysters sit well with you?” Jo asked.

“I think so, but I’ll be fine.” She lied.

After a while, the blonde model walked past without acknowledging them— like they were invisible— and walked out of the studio in a rush. Then Alex came out of his cave while he zipped on a pair of jeans with paint blots all over it.

“Who told you to come here uninvited, Iris?” He said with a sinister grin.

“Jo insisted… I thought I wanted to meet Tatiana and…” Amanda said as she held her breath.

“That’s not Tatiana, it’s Olga.” He said and stared hard at her.

“Oh, sorry… “

“I know this was your idea of fun, Jo… but Iris also knew she was not supposed to be here…” He looked at Iris like a student caught cheating during a test. “Follow me.”

He led them out of the studio and took the stairs up to the next floor. He unlocked a door at the end of the hallway and let them in. “Welcome to my apartment. Wait here and feel free to do anything you want. I’m going for a quick shower.”

Amanda gasped at the sprawling open-type apartment sparsely furnished but tastefully designed in ultra-modern lines and colors. A pool table sat at its center. An entertainment station with a large flat screen filled one wall. The kitchen with six-seater dining area, and a living area with uber-comfy couches and chairs completed the perfect man cave scene.

Jo jumped on the soft couch and giggled. “Nice digs.”

“Yeah, very Alex, I think.” Amanda said, wildly aware that Alex was furious at her. “I think I need a drink.”

She checked the bar and picked a bottle of Black Bush and poured double shots over two glasses with ice and handed one to Jo. “I’ve never been here before, you know.” She said as she guzzled the spicy Irish whiskey.

“Really? Alex never brought you here? That’s odd…”

“No, he said he’ll do when he’s ready… for something I don’t have the slightest clue… I think he’s mad at me for coming here…”

“Let’s have some music… relax… I’m sure Alex is thrilled that we’re here.” Jo went over to the player and pushed some buttons. A Kenny G tune filled the place with the mesmerizing melody of the virtuoso’s tenor saxophone. “I love this music… it’s so sexy.”

She pulled Amanda’s hand and gestured to dance with her. Amanda took her hand and moved to the flow of the seductive jazzy vibe. She couldn’t brush off her anxiety over Alex’s coldness towards her, just because she came to his studio unannounced.

When the next tune on the playlist began, she heard Alex come out of the bedroom behind her.

Her insides fluttered when his hands alighted on her shoulders, and moved down to her breasts, her hips, and before she knew it, she was naked.

Alex moved towards Jo and peeled her naked too. Then out of the blue, Alex kissed Jo and fondled her. “I’ll be the only dom here tonight, you okay with that?” He said to Jo.

“Whatever you say, sir.” Jo said and bowed her head.

Amanda looked down and continued dancing, but felt numbly confused. She didn’t expect that from Alex. Seeing Alex touch and kiss her friend in front of her left a bad taste in her mouth, but also knew she had no right to complain.

She and Alex were just playmates and free to be with whomever they please. She filled her lungs with air and gave a long sigh, it calmed her nerves. If he wanted a threesome party with Jo, she’ll deal with it.

Alex turned to Amanda and pushed her down the couch. “Stay.” He said. Amanda sat still like a puppy to her master.

He walked into the only area in the apartment guarded by a door, and came out with a bundle of rope. He tossed it over Amanda. She reclined on the couch and waited on him, aware of the wetness that spread between her thighs. Although he never used a rope for restraints before, it aroused her.

Over the course of their relationship, Alex never did the same things more than once. Every time they played, he did something new, she never knew what to expect but trusted him totally. Her mind expected only pleasure and her body reacted only with wild anticipation.

“You disappointed me, Iris.” He said as he unraveled the rope in his hands. “Wasn’t I clear when I said my place is off limits to you?”

“I’m sorry, Alex… I— I…” she stuttered.

Jo rubbed Alex’s shoulder. “It was really my fault… sir… I insisted we come here to surprise you but she really didn’t…”

“Shut up, Jo… help me tie this bunny up. She needs to be punished.”

“Are you a shibari expert now… sir?” Jo’s sudden excitement made her forget for a second that Alex was her dom. “Sorry, sir… I’m… shutting up now.”

Alex and Jo spun the rope around her shoulders, breasts, and her arms behind her, secured with knots. Iris tried to stir, a knee-jerk reaction to free herself, but the hemp rope dug on her skin on the slightest movement, it hurt, but it also gave her an inexplicable thrill.

Then another length of rope went around her left leg folded under her thigh bound tight together. Iris didn’t dare to complain but got anxious when Alex took another piece of rope, bound her right ankle and attached the other end onto a metal rig on the pillar next to the couch.

He yanked the rope hauling her right leg up. The dripping mouth of her cave opened like a hatchling waiting to be fed. Amanda felt awkward in that position— it didn’t feel seductive at all— she felt like a clown in a circus act.

“You’re all bound and rigged, Iris. All you have to do is sit there and watch… I doubt you can wiggle your way out of that, and disobey me again.” He cracked a disquieting grin then pulled Jo towards him and fondled her.

Jo kept her mouth shut while his hands explored her body like a cop searching for hidden dope. Then he laid her on the coffee table and nuzzled her neck down to her breasts and belly like a cat plays with its food. Jo moaned in agreement.

“You can do better than that, Jo, spread your legs.” He commanded. Jo did as if she expected a rejuvenating massage while dozing off at the spa. Alex stared at Amanda with burning lust while he took Jo as she watched.

Amanda winced. The utter pain she felt had nothing to do with the ropes digging on her skin or the uncomfortable feeling of being bound. Alex inflicted her a pain that no eye can see, the same way Adam did to her— like they wanted to drive her away.

Waves of arousal shot through her as she watched the heated play before her. Every touch made her cringe. She longed for Alex to touch her and take her instead, but she could only watch them in muted resentment and hopeless yearning. She was thirsty but couldn’t drink, she was hungry but nobody invited her to the table. Tears cascaded down her cheeks as she heard Jo bellow and climaxed.

It took some time before he released her from bondage. Jo helped loosen the knots to unbind her while giggling as Alex tickled her all over. Amanda kept silent the whole time.

“Did you like being bound, Iris?” Alex asked her, caressing her skin marked by the rope. “That’s all I have for you tonight, I hope you had a great time like Jo and I did.”

She avoided looking at his eyes. “Yes, I was thrilled, thanks.” She said and grabbed her clothes. “We should go now, Jo.”

“Okay. Alex, I’m really sorry for interrupting you at work. But I enjoyed our… I’ll see you around.”

Amanda walked out of the apartment ahead of Jo without looking back or saying goodbye to Alex. She felt she’d burst into tears if she did.

When they got in the car, Amanda knew Jo will reprimand her if she revealed her emotions. She tried to resist the urge to cry.

“I know how you feel… I’m really sorry for putting you in that situation with Alex. I didn’t realize…” Jo said.

“It’s not your fault, Jo, I’ll be fine. Where shall I drop you off?”

“You can drop me at the Marriot. I have a flight to catch in six hours.”

“You’re leaving again?”

“Yeah, just for a couple of weeks, but I’ll call you when I get back. There’s so much we have to talk about.”

“I’m counting on it.” She smiled.

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