As Alyssa stalked to her room after their argument, Drew caught a hint in her eyes, just a glimpse of the woman he would leave behind if he were not successful in his endeavors. Alyssa would develop the same dead eyes as the woman in the video. Her shoulders were already drooping in resignation as she left the room. Redeeming himself was imperative to returning life to his once-vibrant Alyssa. Even if she chose to never see him again when their contract was complete, the least he could do was abolish these desperate signals of desolation. But he hoped that in redressing his actions, she would not elect such an option. He hoped with his life that she would accept him as part of her life. Wherever and however she chose to lead it, he needed to be a part of it more than he needed air to breathe.
He crossed the vast space of the luxury apartment into the bedroom. Passing through to the giant walk-in closet, he reflected that three of Alyssa’s current bedrooms could occupy this space, but once again, he was wasting time berating himself when there was so much to be done. Drew set the whip he had brought with him on the nightstand next to the bed. In the center of the coiled weapon, he pulled out the only purchase that he himself had made when he tried looking for a dress for her so many days ago, a three-carat oval sapphire nestled within a ring of round diamonds. The arrangement that he created presented a striking series of contrasts with the black whip on a white mat overlaying the black furniture. The ring in the center matched the cerulean tint of the wall of windows and provided the only color in the room. He prayed that she would accept both the ring and the option to punish him as his apology and his promise to be a perfect partner for the rest of her life. He had so much to offer her, and yet for once, with all of his assets, all of his resources, he found something he could not buy, and Drew was terrified that he would lose it.
After the room was set up, Drew again picked up his car from the valet and headed back to the mobile home in the country. The sun was just going down as he pulled into the long lane leading up to the house. The sound of the weeds brushing the underbody of the sports car elicited a brief cringe, but Drew remained firm in his determination to reach his true love. He flung the door open only to find Alyssa standing before him looking lovely but sad in her light colored slacks with a billowy pastel green blouse. All of her suitcases were packed and waiting near the door. The lost look of misery remained etched on her heart-shaped face, nearly destroying his soul.
“I’m ready,” Alyssa stated simply, not inviting further comment.
“Before you make any decisions, I want to take you somewhere more appropriate for a rational discussion,” Drew asked more than stated.
Alyssa slowly nodded her agreement, but in her misery showed no more curiosity than if he had told her that the sky was blue. She stood slowly and followed Drew as he gathered her suitcases and carried them to the car. As she appeared to be about to help herself into the vehicle, Drew hurried around the car ahead of her to open the door and ensure she was settled comfortably, before finally depositing the luggage in the trunk. Again she remained silent through the long drive, only showing the first signs of interest when they pulled up to the front door of the high-rise.
“Where are we?” Alyssa finally spoke, her voice betraying a hint of uncertainty. Throughout this entire affair, uncertainty had never been a quality that could be ascribed to Alyssa, and Drew thoroughly despised the role he had in bringing about that trait. “Home,” Drew replied firmly, determined that it would be the home the pair would share hereafter.
As though she understood, she simply nodded, and followed Drew to the private elevator that would deliver them to his apartment. As they entered the lavish home, her mild curiosity turned to unadulterated awe with her surroundings. “This is absolutely fabulous,” she gushed nervously.
“This is your new home, I hope,” Drew suggested, “Please look around. Make yourself comfortable. I will be back in a moment.”
As Alyssa crossed to admire the night view of the city below from the floor-to-ceiling windows, Drew disappeared back into the bedrooms. He quickly lit the candles in the wrought iron towers in the corners of the room and the matching smaller candle holders scattered throughout the room on various flat surfaces. He then returned and summoned Alyssa back to that private space, leading her directly to the display he had created on the nightstand next to the bed. Drew initially assumed that the engagement ring itself elicited her sudden intake of breath, but as she worriedly fingered the whip, he quickly explained himself. “I have been truly awful to you. I have no excuses and I deserve to be thoroughly punished. I prostrate myself before you to discipline me as you deem appropriate.”
Alyssa didn’t want to discipline Drew. She just wanted to love him.
Although Drew thought that he had done admirably in keeping his voice even, his tone neutral, Alyssa’s reaction was still explosive, “Is that what you think of this? You think this is a folly? That it is frivolity? You are talking about my being able to support myself and my quality of life and you are able to dismiss it as triviality?” Alyssa did not discuss the frivolousness of loving such a hard man, who cared nothing for her deepest feelings. Obviously it was a waste of breath to even bring the subject up if he considered their relationship insignificant.
“Just answer my question, Alyssa. Does someone in Los Angeles have something that they are holding over your head?” Drew was finally drained from talking in circles and simply asked outright, “Are you being blackmailed, Alyssa?”
“No. Of course not. Nothing like that,” Alyssa lied, her voice dripping with overemphasized innocence punctuating the fact that she was lying.
“Honestly, Alyssa, I know that you don’t desperately need the money,” Drew hinted. “Your ex provides for you well, so why do you want the cash? Is it so important that you abandon all semblance of any kind of moral code, and forego any kind of honest integrity so that you might purchase that brand new Ford Focus or whatever toy fifty thousand dollars will buy for you? I know you were raised better than that. Your sister is proof of a decent upbringing.”
Humph. Ford Focus, indeed. Fifty thousand dollars could buy more car than that. And then there was Hannah. Yes, Hannah was brought up entirely correctly. Hannah never knew of the gnawing hunger pains that tore at one’s insides. She never experienced being so alone, so abandoned that even the rats scurrying in the corner seemed friendly, until even they abandoned her looking for more fertile grounds to sate their appetites. Her sister didn’t know any of these hardships because their mother had abandoned Hannah in a daycare where the friendly staff cared for her. No one cared for Alyssa during that awful time. Alyssa had been utterly and completely alone.
And too, it seemed as though Alyssa was backed in a corner. Drew obviously knew something, apparently knew of the blackmail, but Alyssa just could not bring herself to admit anything. She was just too proud to be a victim. One of the few attributes she possessed was her self-reliance and if she surrendered that, she would have nothing. It was far better to be a dirty whore than to give up her independence, the single trait that she owned entirely all on her own. Her beauty was passing. She knew that. And her intelligence was only average. Her ability to rely on her wits to get through life was her sole strength, and she would not surrender it. And even if she did explain the blackmail to Drew, there was no guarantee that he would believe her or believe that the woman in the video was not her. She could sit beside him watching the video, explaining exactly how the woman in the video was an imposter, but Alyssa had already painted herself with the whore’s brush. All that Drew would understand would be that the DVD was further proof of her many shades of immorality.
Instead Alyssa grasped onto her anger, her rage at Drew for trying to force her to surrender her pride, and her fury with Hannah for never having had to learn such an extreme measure of self-reliance. “Yes, of course. This is all about Hannah. Your friend, Drake, found the perfect woman, and you thought perhaps to settle for the second best door prize. Well, I am not Hannah. I am not perfect. I do not possess the values or the heart of a saint. I have never given you any illusions to the contrary. You hired me to fuck you. You hired me as a whore. You did not woo me to be your girlfriend. Quit living in a fairy tale world in which we have some kind of romantic relationship and instead go ahead and get your money’s worth. Go ahead and fuck me.”
Alyssa’s anger at being compared to her sainted sister and to Drew’s attempt to force a confession from her was nowhere near the wrath that overtook Drew’s emotions as she lectured. Although his anger was not reflected in his calm movements, the rage flashed in his eyes as he stalked toward her. Alyssa backed away until the kitchen counter halted her progress. As he reached her, rather than wrapping his strong tanned hands around her neck, as she expected he should, Drew instead encircled her slim waist. Without warning, he lifted her and seated her on the counter top. She was waiting for him to furiously explode, but instead, he gently ran his fingers along the folds between her thighs. Alyssa opened herself to him, welcoming the gentle touch despite her fiery emotions, and as he circled her sensitive button, she nearly begged for his touch. Her eyes widened as he undid his belt and the clasp on his jeans. She voiced no protest when he lowered the garment to his knees, nor as he drove a finger deep into her exposed opening. Then there was the gloriousness of his hot cock feeling her, branding her slippery passage with the fiery furnace of his desire. This was not some toy. This was close and personal, body to body, and if only in Alyssa’s imagination, heart to heart. She became the strong woman she had always wanted to be as their heat entwined, trapping them in an eternal sensual dance. As though she had only ever been half of a woman before, this made her whole. She had found herself.
Drew was satisfied to note that he was not the only one who was barely functioning, eternally distracted by a constant state of arousal. Already Alyssa’s slit was wet. Her body was more than ready for him.