IRIS

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Chapter 30

Aglow’s billboard and its CEO had become the number one trending topic on social media in only a few hours. Varying views on the issue included BDSM as a lifestyle of perverts and mentally ill persons, or devil worshippers and pagans. Religious groups started a rally outside of their churches with placards that say, “No to satan’s earthly minions,” or “Cast out the demons from that woman.”

In two hours, Olivia Pratt will be at her office for the interview. Amanda’s hands were shaking, she couldn’t lift her coffee mug without spilling it. “I’m doomed, Alex.”

“Relax, my love, you’ll get justice after this interview. Just say what’s true from your heart. I trust you, I know you’ll come out victorious.” He kissed her hand which made her relax a bit.

Joan opened the door. “Your friend is here to see you, Miss Fox.”

Jo didn’t wait to be let in, she stormed in and hugged Amanda. “I came as soon as I saw the news, Iris, I rebooked my flight a day earlier to be here right away. Are you okay?”

“I feel better now that you’re here, my friend,” she said. “Alex never left my side, I could have exploded to pieces if he did.”

Jo gave Alex a hug. “You’re the best, Alex, can I clone you?”

They laughed.

“Yeah, I needed some laughter, Jo, and you’re the best.”

“So, you’re giving an exclusive interview with Olivia Pratt? She’s your best bet, Iris. You can do this.” Jo rubbed her back and pecked her cheek. “Wait— you’re wearing that for the interview?”

Amanda wore her regular business suit, black pencil skirt, a white button up blouse with a bow, and double-breasted waist jacket. “What’s wrong? It’s an Armani.”

“You are defending your side of the issue.” Jo explained. “Why wear something that identifies with the other side? That looks so conflicting. You have to wear something more liberated— and bow is disgusting. Put on something that will proudly display that— wow, lovely collar!”

“I think Jo is right, my love,” Alex said.

“Okay, will you help me pick something, Jo?”

“That’s what I’m here for— your fairy godmother,” she laughed.

Amanda opened the door to her suite and let Jo and Alex in.

“This is wicked awesome, Iris. Why didn’t you bring me here before?” Jo said, bewildered.

“Because it’s a secret room.” Amanda beamed. “Alex and Val are the only people I let in here. And now that includes you.” She opened the closet and pulled out a green dress. “Do you think this will work?”

“Nah, wear green if you want to save the Amazon forests,” she smirked. “Don’t you have a flaming red dress that’s subtly provocative?”

She pulled a red one and pressed it over her body. “How about this one?”

“Yes, I think that’s perfect, put it on, I want to see it on you.” Jo said, enthused.

Amanda shed her work clothes and slipped into the red dress. It was an off shouldered cocktail dress that hugged her body and flowed down to a balloon skirt above her knees.

“That is fabulous. It doesn’t show a lot, but will perfectly frame your collar, and it’s red hot, man,” Jo exclaimed. “Now let’s fix your hair up in a loose bun, with tendrils falling off all around, and you’re all set for your close-up,” she grinned.

“Thanks, Jo, I’m so glad you made it.” She pulled in a deep breath and sighed, “I think it’s time.”

When they trooped out of the secret room, and saw Joan paced back and forth near the door.

“They’re setting up at the lounge now, Miss Fox, and Olivia is on her way up. Are you ready?” Joan huffed.

“I’m ready. Call me when Olivia arrives,” she said as she tried to calm her nerves.

Not a second later, Joan came back in, “She’s here, Miss Fox.”

“Okay, I’ll be right out,” she said, and walked calmly out of her office.

Olivia shot forward as soon as their eyes met. “I’m Olivia, thank you for giving me this interview, Miss Fox.” She shook Amanda’s hands.

“Please call me Amanda. I’m grateful that you came, Olivia. I’m quite nervous, you know. Take it easy on me, okay?”

“Don’t worry, just answer my questions as truthfully as you can. I will not put you in a bad light. Trust me. And we’re airing this live, okay?” Olivia gave her a warm smile.

The director asked them to take their seats. Lapel microphones were attached to her dress, then the make-up artist blotted sweat from her face and brushed on a bit of powder. The cameras rolled.

“Good evening, America, and welcome to another night of ‘HerStory’. I am Olivia Pratt— tonight, I’m with Miss Amanda Fox, CEO of Aglow. The beauty company recently launched an ad campaign that received controversial comments from a rival company, and insinuated that Miss Fox is a pervert who practiced BDSM— a lifestyle that adapts bondage, dominance and submission, and sadomasochism. The issue made it to the top trending topics on social media and fashion blogs around the world. After all that’s been said, let’s hear what Amanda Fox had to say.

“Amanda, is there any truth to the assertion that you are into the BDSM lifestyle?”

“Yes, I am, Olivia, and it is also true that the billboard ad we launched carried the BDSM theme.”

“Would you tell us how you came into that lifestyle?”

“I was introduced into it by my boyfriend, Alex, last spring…” she was surprised that she called him ‘boyfriend’.

“Is he here? Alex, you around here somewhere?” Olivia turned around and saw Alex, his hand raised. “There he is, would you like to join us here please?”

Alex sprang from behind a bunch of onlookers and sat on the armrest beside Amanda and held her hand.

“Hi Alex, I think Amanda needs you beside her for support. I know she’s nervous.”

Amanda laughed. “Yeah, I’ve never been interviewed like this before, Olivia, I’m sorry.”

“That’s perfectly all right. Now let’s get back to my next question, Amanda, what made you decide to adapt this lifestyle?” Olivia said.

“I was scared at first, but then I realized… well, Alex helped me realize that as humans, we have a natural desire for pleasure through sex… and that desire can come in many forms aside from the widely accepted vanilla kind. It’s kinky, yes, but it also makes sex more pleasurable.

“If we can liberate our minds from the oppressive view of sex as dirty, we can have a better relationship with our partners. If sex is dirty, then even vanilla should be dirty too— what’s the difference? We just explore more positions than usual— and enjoy it more.” She smiled.

Olivia nodded in agreement. “Most people believe that BDSM is dangerous. You could get hurt, is this true?”

“BDSM is just playing out sexual fantasies. Nobody should get hurt or abused. Those who are in the lifestyle live by rules. It must be done with mutual consent, respect, and trust. Nobody is forced into something they don’t agree to— that would be rape in any varying degree.”

“I understand that clearly,” Olivia continued, “but is it true that most people who subscribe to that lifestyle have emotional or mental problems related to sex? I just read that from a comment on social media.”

Amanda cleared her throat. “People who say all kinds of mean things, spreading false information— like it’s the lifestyle of perverts with mental problems, or demons from hell— they really have no idea what they were talking about.

“All the people I’ve met who are in the lifestyle, are upright and intelligent people— they respect, they care, and they support me without judgement.”

“I guess that’s a very clear answer. One last question, Amanda— what’s the message behind that billboard ad on Times Square?”

“It’s quite simple and straightforward really— we have the freedom to choose what we want. Why get vanilla when there’s a plethora of exciting flavors out there? I thought if I wanted to be true to myself, I’ll wear red lipstick all-year round.” She smiled.

“Thank you, Amanda, for shedding light into this issue. You’ve heard it straight from Amanda Fox, and this is HerStory.”

Upbeat music turned up.

“Cut!” the director shouted. “It’s a wrap.”

Olivia gave Amanda a long hug and rubbed her back. “Well-done, Amanda. I hope this interview helps you in any way, and I’m sure it will, just wait and see. Give me a call if there is anything else I can do.”

“Thank you, Olivia, I must admit, I’ve never watched any of your shows, but I trust you. I’ll start watching from now on.” She smiled.

Alex held her hand and kissed her. “I’m your boyfriend now?”

“I’m sorry, didn’t know what to call you— is that okay?” she laughed.

“Makes me proud.” He flashed a cocky grin.

“Good, let’s go back inside so they can clear the area.” She said, and nudged him to her office.

Jo sat on the couch in her office, her eyes red from crying. “You were incredible out there, Iris. I didn’t expect those kind of frank answers from you. I think you’re a hero, man. Nobody have ever spoken like that on national TV about us.”

“I don’t even remember what I just said. The words just came out, and it felt liberating. Now the whole world knows I’m a submissive pervert.” She laughed, tears fell on her cheeks.

Jo and Alex put their arms around her, the three of them rocked in a group hug as Amanda cried her heart out.

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