Help! This is my first story, I have others locked away in my head, but I fear these will be longer tales and before I share these I need to ask you, as a reader, a favour. Do I, in your opinion, have the ability to write a good story that is worthy of your time, or am I simply wasting mine and your time? I welcome your opinions and constructive criticism — Thank you, Adam Paul
It was Sunday evening in late February and the Globonautics building was all but deserted. Outside the wind was whipping up a storm, and Chad Nelson stared at the swirling rain lashing the car park on the video monitor in his office. He hoped the weather wasn't going to ruin his night.
Nelson was stocky in build, with a close cropped military style haircut and a rigid demeanour. His grey eyes were strong, with a gaze that seemed to cut through anyone who challenged him. At fifty-two, Nelson knew he had risen as far as he would rise in Globonautics. Although he had always dreamed of a 'real' post with the company, he had somehow ended up as Internal Security Manager — a grand title for someone who basically took care of cleaning staff and mostly retired men working part-time as security guards. He took his job seriously though, but recognised his career had somehow wound up in a cul-de-sac.
He glanced at the clock on the wall and flicked the video monitor to show the front desk. It was six o'clock and Hale was sitting at the counter reading a newspaper. Nelson picked up his phone and buzzed him, smiling to himself as he watched the old boy jolt to attention.
"Hale, why don't you get yourself off home," Nelson said amiably when he picked up the phone. "I'm going to be stuck here for a few hours so I'll keep an eye on things 'till change over time."
"Are you sure Mr Nelson?" The astonishment in Hale's voice carried over the phone. "I mean, I don't mind — it's what I'm paid for."
"Book your usual hours Hale, and get yourself home. I'll be down in a few minutes to lock up behind you. Oh, if you've finished with your newspaper..."
"I'll leave it right here on the desk Mr Nelson."
"Thank you, Hale. Goodnight." Nelson hung-up. That was the second time in two nights he had sent Hale home early, the old guy would be starting to think he was going soft.
Nelson watched Hale on the video monitor as he gathered his things and zipped up his coat. Hale paused as he crossed to the entrance doors and half-turned, looking up directly into the camera before waving his hand. Nelson nodded to himself in satisfaction and headed out of his office to lock the doors behind Hale.
Standing in the foyer behind the heavy plate glass doors, Nelson peered through the rain, watching Hale's tail lights fade into the night. He pulled out his mobile phone and thumbed a number. His call was answered after two rings.
"All set?" Nelson asked.
"Yep," The voice replied.
"Come on in." Nelson disconnected the call, locked the front doors and walked purposefully back to his office. He had things to do.
Systems security analyst Rachel Holden was at home finishing off some monthly reports ready for the morning. She leaned back in her chair and stretched, raising her arms above her head as she curled her toes into the carpet. An unfinished cup of herbal tea sat cold on the table beside the disorganised piles of papers she'd been working on. Although Rachel was relatively new to Globonautics, she was ambitious and at twenty-three she had time on her side. She worked long hours and her results were gaining attention in the right places.
Globonautics was a software publishing company and Rachel was part of a team whose job it was to check everything the company produced for backdoor entry points that programme writers liked to insert, along with any other potential system weaknesses. In her first month at Globonautics she had spotted a weakness that none of her co-workers had found, just as a product was about to go into production. She had saved the company millions and given herself the heads-up with her superiors.
In just eight months at the company, she had credited another two major coups to her personal tally, as well as a number of minor ones. Rachel Holden was a rising star and was already tipped for supervisor when the next vacancy appeared. She didn't care that her discoveries usually resulted in the firing of programme writers. If they were stupid enough to fuck with the system, they deserved to lose their jobs.
She surveyed her apartment appreciatively. Her standard of living was far higher than most in her age bracket, and that was due entirely to her ability and attitude. She worked hard, put in more hours than her colleagues in the department and was on the brink of a blooming career. Not only was she bright, but she was attractive with it, cause for more than one or two grumblings of discontent behind her back by career rivals.
Rachel gathered up the papers from the table in front of her and organised them neatly before replacing them into the office files. She could hear the low, mournful, sound of the wind outside as she checked her watch. Maybe if she took a shower before she drove back to the office, the storm would have abated by the time she was ready.
Nelson saw the car headlights enter the parking area on the video monitor and headed quickly down to reception. The cameras were on, but they were no longer recording. The missing footage had been replaced with similar footage from the week previous. On first glance, if for any reason they were reviewed over the next week, nothing untoward would appear amiss.
As he approached the plate glass entrance doors he recognised Lou Jensen hovering impatiently from foot to foot outside. Jensen was four years his junior and about a dozen years slower, until it came to computers — then he was a whiz. At six foot two, he was taller than Nelson, though not as broad in the shoulder. He had a crooked nose and a weak looking chin.
Nelson smiled to himself, thinking about the haircut he'd forced upon Jensen. He unlocked the glass doors to let him in. Jensen had silky, straight, soot-black hair, which until recently he kept very long. Nelson argued that a security guard did not wear his hair long. If Jensen wanted in, he had to get it cut. The difference in his appearance was startling, and that was for the good. As an ex-employee of Globonautics, he was easily recognisable with his trademark long black hair.
"Jesus, what a night!" Jensen greeted as he step inside. His narrow charcoal-coloured eyes quickly danced about the dimly lit interior of the reception foyer as Nelson locked the doors behind him.
"Keep off the tiled floor." Nelson cautioned, "Stay on the carpet, I don't want puddles everywhere giving the game away."
"Uh! Oh, right." Jensen's tone altered, he sounded hurt. "No — hello, how are you?"
"Fine — thanks," Nelson forced a smile, "How about yourself?"
"Great. Never better..."
"Good." Nelson cut in. "Now can we cut out the bullshit and get on. We've got a lot to do — did you bring a pair of black shoes like I told you?"
Jensen swung a duffle bag from his shoulder in answer and Nelson grunted. He turned and led Jensen along the carpet, carefully avoiding the tiled path leading to the reception desk as he moved to the staircase leading up to his office. At the top of the first flight, he turned right and headed left at the end of the corridor.
Nelson's office was at the back of the building, not on the front where he felt he belonged. There were other, junior, members of staff that had office's out front, but not him, and that jarred with him. Not tonight, tonight he was moving office temporarily to one on the front of the fifth floor. An office the two of them had spent several hours in last night making everything ready and rehearsing for tonight.
Once inside Nelson's office Jensen glanced quickly at the bank of six video monitors. "They're not recording are they?"
"Of course they aren't, and I've already inserted the files like you showed me last night." Nelson replied indignantly as he rounded his desk. He looked up, his eyes widened angrily as he looked at Jensen in the full glare of his office lights. "I thought I told you to make an effort — come clean?"
"Huh?" Jensen looked at him in surprise.
"You didn't shave!" Nelson snapped.
"Oh, that! I was just about to when you called."
"You got a white shirt?"
"Yep!" Jensen pulled the front of his coat open to expose his clean white shirt.
Nelson searched the drawer to his desk and pulled out an electric razor. "Three doors down on the left is the bathroom, take your shirt off and then shave." He tossed him the razor. "Go!"
"All right, I ain't your fucking dog you know." Jensen complained, "There's no need to be talking at me like I was!"
"Look, just get a move on. I don't have time for nice. When we're ready, I'll be fine ok." Nelson fired back at him irritably. "I'll bring the uniform down in a minute. Hang your coat behind the bathroom door and leave it there to dry."
Jensen left with the razor, grumbling quietly under his breath as he went. Nelson sighed and glanced at the monitors showing the car park and front entrance. Everything was as it should be. Lou Jensen was nerd, but what he lacked in common sense he more than made up for with his computer wizardry. He also had a vendetta, and that made him the ideal accomplice. Nelson needed Jensen's skills to pull things off tonight. Together they made a formidable team.
Fifteen minutes later he was back in Nelson's office wearing the uniform he'd been supplied. It was hardly a perfect fit, but it would pass. Nelson nodded his approval and checked the clock. Time was against them, they would have to hurry. He hoped Jensen would remember everything that was required of him to play his part.
The two of them returned downstairs. Nelson showed him to the reception desk and reminded him of what he should do. He then checked Jensen knew his lines, which of course he should since they had gone over them often enough. Nelson glanced at the time again. The clock seemed to be racing against them. He quickly set Jensen up with a coffee behind the reception desk and handed him Hale's newspaper. Finally he handed over the key to the front entrance doors.
"Right, that's the visitor's book." Nelson placed his hand on the big black ledger under the counter. "She's not going to want to sign it when she gets here — trust me, but you offer it to her anyway — ok?"
Jensen nodded his head gravely.
"That's when you start acting all suspicious..."
"And that's when I start asking her questions about what she's doing here and what's she's got in her bag or whatever." Jensen groaned. They had gone over it so many times 'till he was sick of it. He knew what was expected of him and was more than prepared to play his part.
Nelson watched him thoughtfully before allowing himself to visibly relax. Everything would be just fine so long as there were no major surprises, and he just couldn't think of anything that could go wrong, unless she didn't show.
Rachel Holden stood wrapped in a towel and dripped on her carpet as she caste a critical eye over her wardrobe. The wind appeared to have calmed, but it was still raining hard. It didn't hurt her to look good for the old man. She pretended not to notice him gaze admiringly at her when she paid her after hours visit once a month. Apparently, he was most appreciative of her legs, which meant wearing a skirt. Though the weather was hardly appropriate, she selected a snug fitting skirt, cut just above the knee. A low slug blouse would be good too. More than once she had caught him sneaking a peek down her top as they chatted over coffee.
Hale was harmless enough, of that she was certain. In fact she was reasonably sure he would be glad of her visit without the need for dressing up. However, if it kept him sweet, she saw no reason to spoil his small pleasures. After all, he never acted lewdly, or made any inappropriate insinuations. He always acted the complete gentleman and that made Rachel comfortable enough to put in a little effort for him.
Rachel was careful in timing her visits, like everyone else she knew the rules. Having won Hale over, she made sure it was always on his shift that she visited. Not that Hale realised her visits were timed to coincide with his shift turn — that would be giving away too much, it might even put ideas into the old man's head and Rachel certainly didn't want that.
She made her selection, and laid her clothes ready on the bed. Standing in front of the mirror, she unwound the towel from her shoulder-length, auburn hair and reached for her hair-dryer.
Chad Nelson sat behind his desk, tension slowly building in him as his gaze flicked from video monitors to clock. The clock appeared to have stopped. It hadn't of course, as his watch confirmed when he checked periodically. He banged his fist down impatiently on his desk. Where the hell was she?
He had caught her accidentally while reviewing random video downloads. Further reviews showed her visiting the site three times in the past, always at month end and always when Hale had been on duty. If Hale was on duty on Saturday night, she showed up then. In the past five months she had only missed one month end, and that was when Hale had been away on Christmas leave.
Protocol required all visitors to sign-in. A check in the visitor's book had shown no entry on any of the dates she had previously visited and Nelson should have ham-strung Hale for that alone. Realising the emerging pattern, and calculating the time of her next visit, he saw the opportunity and decided to let Hale off the hook. There was a bigger fish to catch and a juicy prize on offer.
In his dreams he had designed and executed a thousand different scenarios. Few of them were realistic possibilities, but from them emerged something sensational. So bold and daring that he scarcely believed it could possibly work. It took a lot of thinking and planning, working out the different angles and how it might pan out. Until eventually he had something that was watertight, just so long as she took the bait.
Suddenly his eyes widened. The video monitor showed a vehicle entering the car park. A small smile of satisfaction crossed his lips, and he felt his heart lighten. He glanced at a second monitor to see Jensen leaning forward in his seat to peer out into the night; he had heard the approaching car.
Outwardly Jensen appeared relaxed as he sat behind the counter reading the paper. Inwardly, his heart was racing while he mentally rehearsed his role. He looked up in answer to the tapping on the door with what he hoped was an expression of surprise on his face. Rising from behind the counter, he walked slowly toward the door and saw her hesitation as she peeped through the glass and failed to recognise him.
She was pretty, he had to admit that, prettier than he expected. She stood around five foot nine, clutching an umbrella in one hand and two carrier bags in the other. Her hazel eyes watched him with uncertainty as he approached the door, a slender eyebrow arched up with concern. He stopped on the inside of the plate glass and looked at her questioningly, taking in the softness of her complexion.
She mouthed something at him through the glass and Jensen shook his head as if not understanding. She tried again, this time lifting the two carrier bags in her hand in explanation. Again Jensen shook his head. Suddenly he stepped up to the door and stared out into the night. She turned, following his gaze, almost expecting someone else to appear behind her. Realising that he was making sure she was alone, she turned back and waited while he unlocked the door.
"Good evening — can I help you?" He kept one hand firmly on the door, blocking the gap with his body while his gaze continued to search the area behind her.
"Hi," She smiled, "I just need to return these files to the office."
It was an easy smile, he thought, from someone use to smiling. "Well there is nobody in admin right now — we're closed."
"I know," And to explain herself she added, "I work here."
"Oh, well, why didn't you say so?" He stood aside to let her pass and quickly locked the door behind her.
She closed her umbrella, "It's a filthy night." She said conversationally, glancing over her shoulder at him.
"It's better now than it was." He noticed that her auburn hair looked newly blown dry, and her cheeks had a flushed freshness. He moved past her, walking toward the counter. "I'm sorry, what did you say your name was?"
"I didn't." She replied. He stopped dead in his tracks, turning slowly to look at her. Her tone softened, becoming apologetic. "Look, I'm sorry. I just need to drop these files off. I won't be two minutes."
"I don't have any idea who you are — I can't just let you wander off. Do you have any ID on you?"
"No — not on me, I was expecting..." She suddenly realised she was about to say Hale's name, and that might cause him trouble. "I mean, I wasn't expecting to be asked for proof of identity. You can come with me if you like — I won't be more than a moment?"
Beneath the open front of her heavy coat she wore a white blouse. His eyes fell the length of her slender torso to her knee-length dark skirt, and finally to her legs — and what legs they were to! God! The bitch was a-looker. He fancied that he would discover she had an hourglass figure once she removed the coat. She caught him gazing at her. Instead of covering herself with her coat, she slipped it from her shoulders. He wasn't disappointed.
Jensen felt himself beginning to redden and pulled himself together with some effort. "You still haven't told me your name?"
"Rachel," She answered to his back as he walked around the reception counter. Where's Hale? She didn't know who this guy was, but he seemed vaguely familiar. She moved to the counter and leaned across it as he sat down at the desk.
He looked up, his eyes immediately locking on the view down the front of her blouse where he could clearly see her pale blue lace-patterned-bra. His gaze flashed up to meet her eyes staring directly back at him. "Rachel who?"
She sighed, "Holden."
"Well if you wouldn't mind signing in, I'll take you straight up." His tone was business like as he reached for the visitors log book.
"Can't we dispense with the formalities — I'll be in and out in no time." She beamed her best smile at him.
"I know," Rachel interrupted him, "But the truth is I don't want anyone to know I've been here."
"I see." He replied. Although she didn't think he really did.
"I was behind with my work, so I took it home to finish off. If I could just get the files away ready for morning then nobody will be any the wiser and I won't get into any trouble." Her eyes became pleading as she leaned forward a little closer, allowing her top to fall just a little lower.
Just then the phone rang. Rachel straightened up in surprise as Jensen answered the call.
"Hello ... Yes, Mr Nelson ... err Rachel Holden, Mr Nelson ... She seems a little reluctant to sign the visitors book ... Yes, sir, on my way."
Rachel hissed, sucking in air. Nelson was here!?
"Mr Nelson would like to see you in his office?" Jensen stood.
"Thanks a bunch!" She cursed at him angrily. "You might have told me he was here."
"You didn't ask."
"What's he doing here anyway?"
"I have no idea." Jensen answered smugly. "Perhaps you'd like to ask him yourself."
They took the stairs; a deliberate, prearranged, ploy that would allow Nelson to get from his office to the one on the fifth floor. The change in office had come about through necessity; the bank of six monitors might well raise Miss Holden's suspicions, and that was the last thing either of them wanted.
Rachel was amazed that Nelson's office was so high up. From what she understood, the higher the office, the more power the occupant wielded. That could only mean that Nelson had some serious clout. Rachel knew of Nelson, but had never had any dealings with him in the past. Given his previously unrecognised ranking in the company, she felt she should have made an effort to get better acquainted with the man.
She followed Jensen along the hall wondering how on earth she was going to get out of this fix unscathed. Jensen paused at a door and knocked lightly. Rachel followed nervously as he entered. She had never seen inside an office on the fifth floor, her gaze immediately took in the large, brightly lit office. The office was very warm, uncomfortably so, and sparsely furnished, yet tastefully decorated. To the right of the heavy desk with the computer where Nelson sat, stood a small conference table.
"Good evening Miss Holden," Nelson's eyes looked at her coldly as he waved her to the chair sitting several feet away from the front of his desk. The sleeves of his shirt had been rolled up to reveal thick hairy arms, and his shirt collar was open, his tie hanging loose about his neck. The computer monitor caste a blue tint across his face that made him look slightly inhuman.
"Hello," She tried to keep her tone light and friendly as she smiled at him. Her smile felt flat and awkward.
"What brings you here on a Sunday night?"
"I was just returning some files — that's all." Rachel kept her tone even.
"I see," His gaze flicked to Jensen standing behind her. "And what seems to be the problem?"
Jensen cleared his throat, and Rachel sensed his discomfort, which only added to her own unease. "I asked her to sign the visitor's book, sir. She seemed reluctant to do so."
"That's not entirely true..."
Nelson glared at her, causing her words to fade away. He looked back at Jensen, "Is that all?"
"Well sir, I didn't know who she was, and she didn't have her company ID on her, sir."
"I forgot..." Again Rachel stopped in mid-sentence as Nelson scowled at her angrily.
Nelson's eyes switched back to Jensen briefly. He said nothing and Nelson turned his attention back to Rachel who sat perched on the edge of her seat looking like a scolded child. He sat back thoughtfully in his deep, high-backed leather chair. He noted her knees primly pressed together as she faced him, her fingers twitching nervously in her lap.
"So you arrived on site — out of hours, without your pass, to return some files?"
"Yes, Mr Nelson." She lowered her eyes, feeling her face redden. "I'm sorry, I forgot my pass. It's in my handbag — at home." Her gaze rose to meet his, "And if I can just say, I didn't refuse to sign the visitor's book. I didn't have the opportunity. I was being asked to sign the book when we were interrupted by the telephone ringing — your telephone call I believe."
"I see. And what files were you returning?"
"Just some monthly reviews I've been working on."
He leaned forward, extending his hand toward her. Rachel turned in her seat, reaching down for the two carrier bags on the floor beside her. Nelson was immediately rewarded with an excellent view of the inside of her soft thighs beneath her skirt as her leg shifted and her knees drifted apart. All ready he could feel himself becoming hard under the desk.
Rachel removed the files from the two bags. Half rising from her chair, she stepped forward to stretch forward and pass him the files. Nelson took them from her and set them down in one pile on his desk.
"I take it you signed these files out when you took them home?"
"Yes sir." Rachel whispered, her face suddenly going bright red.
"Shall we go downstairs and check?" His eyes narrowed and she couldn't bring herself to look up at him. He knew she hadn't signed the proper documentation and was quite prepared to prove it.
"No — I'm sorry. I didn't sign them out." She whispered miserably.
"You lied to me!" He snapped at her.
"Why didn't you sign them out?" He demanded, his tone sounding angrier by the minute.
"I forgot." It sounded as lame as it was.
"You seem to be a very forgetful young lady, or perhaps you think our protocols here are beneath you?"
Rachel said nothing in reply.
"Is this the first-time you have taken files home and forgotten to book them out?"
"Yes..." She saw the look he gave her and instantly realised he knew the truth, "I mean no."
"Not only are you forgetful, but you're a perpetual liar!"
"I only took them home to keep up with my work rate!" Rachel exclaimed.
"And in doing so, you blatantly disregarded several company protocols. I think you will have some very serious explaining to do tomorrow morning. And, I might add, by the time I have finished writing up my report, I think that by lunch-time you will be clearing out your desk."
That shook her. Rachel went white-faced. All her work and effort, her plans — the golden career, evaporated before her eyes. "I'm sorry," She said, "I made a mistake, it won't happen again, I promise you. I was only trying to work harder — more efficiently."
"So you were trying to impress somebody," His tone softened and Rachel looked up hopefully, "Advance your career?"
"Yes," She whispered, daring to hope.
"Taking a chance to get what you wanted?"
It didn't sound entirely right, but he had the gist of things. Rachel duly nodded her head. There was a glint in his eye that hadn't existed before. He wanted something, she could sense it.
"The long and short of it is that you took a chance, sneaked these files out, and hoped to sneak them back in so you would look good?"
"Yes," She mumbled again, feeling stung by his summary.
"And in order for you to do this, you would like us to turn a blind-eye?"
Rachel shifted uncomfortably, not knowing what she should answer in reply. He was right of course, but admitting to it was another matter.
"What's in it for us?"
"I don't know what you mean?" Rachel replied, her face reddening again.
"I think you do, I think you like to play games and take chances." He was leaning forward across the table now, watching her carefully. "And I'm prepared to offer you the chance to play a game right now."
Rachel instantly became wary. She glanced quickly over her shoulder at Jensen. He remained quiet and unmoving at her back. She didn't like the sound of this, or where it might be heading. She looked back at Nelson, inclining her head slightly as if to indicate she was listening.
"Have you ever played a game of chance before?" He asked her smoothly, "You seem an expert. Let's see, how many folders do we have here?" He made a show of counting them out. "Nine. Nine folders, shall we play a game of chance now, for these folders?"
Rachel looked at him questioningly. She hadn't the faintest idea of what he was talking about. When he made no effort to explain, she asked him to.
"We'll take a pack of cards and before I turn a card over, you must decide whether the card will be higher or lower than its predecessor. If you're right you win a folder."
"What if I'm wrong?" She breathed apprehensively.
"Hmm ... Now that's a point." Nelson looked at Jensen. "What do you think?"
Rachel glanced back, but couldn't bring herself to look at him. In a flash she saw where this was heading.
"No!" She blurted, suddenly standing up. "I won't have anything to do with it!"
"With what?" Nelson looked unexpectedly surprised, and he was.
"Your dirty little games — the two of you are orchestrating this to have sex with me and I won't have anything to do with it!"
"Sex with you?" Nelson baulked. "No Miss Holden — that would be far too risky. Anything might happen. Why you could go to the police afterward and make all manner of wild claims once your folders were safely back in the security cabinet. You might say we had raped you, leaving us with little defence."
"Well what then?" Confused, she lowered herself back into her seat.
"We will look — nothing more." He told her frankly. "You play for the folders. We play for your clothes."
"This is ridiculous," She flared, rising to her feet once more.
"Do sit down!" Nelson snapped. His tone softened. "Jumping up and down all the time, it's worse than watching a vertical game of tennis!" He paused, as if searching for the right words, and then ploughed ahead. "It's simply a game of chance. You want your folders and we want to see you naked. If you win, you get your folders and we are disappointed."
Rachel sat quietly for a moment weighing her options. She could walk out, and lose. On the other hand she could take her chances and just as easily lose, but she might also win? Quick mental arithmetic revealed the odds were against her. They had nine folders. She had five items of clothing including her shoes, unless they allowed her to put her coat back on, in which case she had six.
"The odds aren't even?" She countered.
"Lucky for us," He smiled scornfully, "Had you arrived with only three folders, the odds would have favoured you and I doubt you would have complained then!" He reached into a drawer. "Now, shall we play?"
"I want to put my coat back on." She reached for where it lay on the floor at her side and caught his eye. He shook his head.
Rachel paused, thought for a moment, and then made a decision. "Looking — that's all. No touching?"
Nelson smiled and confirmed their agreement. Rachel turned, her eyes challenging Jensen. He smirked back at her as he crossed the room and perched himself on the side of the oversized desk. She took a deep breath to steady her squirming insides and caught sight of the deck of cards Nelson held toward her.
"Do you want to shuffle?"
She shook her head, not trusting herself to hold the cards steady enough as she shuffled the pack. She watched him start with an overhand shuffle, quickly splitting the pack into two halves to complete a table riffle shuffle. When done, he split the pack, placing the top pile under the bottom. He offered the deck to Rachel for a further split. She declined, sitting herself forward on the edge of her chair, knees together and hands gripping the front of the seat, watching the deck as he laid it carefully on the desk. He turned the top card, the four of diamonds.
"Higher, or lower?"
She glanced nervously across at Jensen, who was eyeing her with amusement. She all ready felt naked under his gaze. Her eyes switched back to the desk. "Higher."
Nelson turned the next card over and the eight of clubs appeared. He reached across the table and picked up a folder, moving it to create a second pile as his eyes turned to gaze back at her. An eight was less certain. There were fifty-two cards in a standard deck; seven's were the middle number. The odds were pretty even, the next card could almost equally be higher or lower, but marginally favoured it being lower.
"Lower." Rachel said quietly, her heart thumping.
He turned the queen of diamonds and in the same instant a smile broke across his round face, it faded quickly as Rachel kicked off a shoe.
"Both shoes!" Jensen cautioned.
"One." Rachel insisted defiantly.
"It's a pair of shoes," Nelson corrected, "Not two shoes — you lose both."
Reluctantly, Rachel slipped her remaining shoe and noticed Nelson waiting, hand poised over the deck of cards. "Lower."
The jack of spades appeared and she sighed with relief, feeling a glimmer of hope as another folder moved to her pile. She backed another low card and her confidence grew as the six of hearts turned over. Three folders sat on her pile, the odds were improving — but a six? It was hard to call. Rachel felt her run on low cards was up. She switched her call, "Higher."
Rachel's heart sank when the two of spades flipped down. Jensen smiled, twisting to look at her squarely. Her eyes flicked nervously to Nelson as he folded his arms on the desk and leaned forward to watch. The silence was ominous as she fought to hold her emotions in check.
Nelson stared at her intently, seeing the anger flare in her eyes. He was enjoying this, savouring every delicious moment. He had watched her from the moment she had joined the company, swaggering around the place like she really was something. She knew how to flirt, and tease, subtle like — nothing too obvious. The coy looks and disarming smiles whenever one of her superiors made a comment, a picture of sweetness and charm was the game she played. But not for the likes of him of course — he was right off her radar. Oh, she was good, he'd give her that. But behind the façade she was a ruthless bitch. Everyone in her path was a stepping stone to where she wanted to be, and she wanted to be a long way up the ladder from where she was at present.
Credit where it's due, he thought, she was good looking. His eyes dropped to her rounded knees pointing directly at him as she sat opposite. His gaze floated down her shapely calves to her slender ankles pressed tightly together, and then rolled back up to where her breasts pushed out firmly against her blouse. It would be good to see how high and bloody mighty she looked with her titties hanging out!
Nelson snapped back to attention, slightly confused, as she moved her hands behind her back and raised herself a few inches off her seat. He couldn't help feeling cheated somehow as he watched her shuffle her skirt over her hips. She lowered herself back to the chair and then slid her skirt down her long legs to bunch on the floor at her ankles.
Rachel sat herself right back in the chair now, adjusting her briefs back into place. She glanced quickly at the two men, saying nothing as she tugged at the bottom of her blouse, arranging it as best she could to cover the top of her thighs. She folded her arms in her lap, leaning herself forward to better conceal herself.
Jensen watched as Nelson flipped the next card over to reveal the ten of clubs. His heart sank as Nelson moved yet another file across to the lost pile. He couldn't see how Nelson figured Rachel would lose when it seemed to him that the odds were in her favour. Out of the six cards so far played, she had managed to correctly guess four, winning herself almost half the files they had, while they had only been able to gain two biddy-pieces of her clothing. Nelson, Jensen decided, should have picked something they stood a better chance of winning.
He heard Rachel say 'lower' and had a sudden urge to scream. Of course it's lower you stupid bitch — why take so fucking long deciding!? Instead, he sat dumfounded, staring down at the king of hearts. A broad smile broke across his face as he turned to look at Rachel. She met his gaze briefly, quickly looking back at the card on the desk.
Without rising from her seat, Rachel grasped the bottom of her blouse. Rocking her behind, she freed her blouse from underneath herself and peeled the blouse up the length of her torso. Nelsen watched, spellbound as the garment travelled her slender form. Something glistened, catching his eye. A tiny jewelled scorpion was fixed to her belly-button. How apt that she should wear a belly-piecing of a scorpion, he thought.
Her blouse travelled up as her arms extended above her head, turning her blouse inside out as it revealed her pale blue bra, the half-cups straining to contain her ample breasts. He licked his lips, feeling the swelling in his trousers surge uncomfortably.
Rachel tossed her head, flicking her auburn tresses straight as she freed her blouse. Her eyes darted quickly toward the two men staring at her in silence, and just as quickly she averted her gaze. Silently, she set about turning her blouse the right way out, folding it neatly before setting it carefully in her lap. She felt uncomfortable; her skin crawled as the two men ogled her near naked form.
"Put it on the floor." Nelson told her.
She glanced at him swiftly, but was unable to meet his gaze. Reluctantly she lifted the blouse from her lap and set it down on the floor beside her chair.
"Lower." She said, interrupting their silent elation at her near nudity.
Nelson turned a card. The seven of spades; Nelson moved a fifth folder to her pile. She closed her eyes in despair. It was a fifty-fifty call. She tried to think, how many lower cards and how many higher cards had she already used — did it really make any difference? She caught sight of Jensen staring at her boobs and bunched her shoulders, hands hugging at her elbows in an attempt to spoil his view.
"Next?" Nelson urged. She thought she had seen more high cards than low, which suggested the odds favoured a low card. Her stomach felt hollow, realising that the next card might cost her her bra. And what if she didn't manage to win all the folders? Would they just be satisfied with her nudity and give her the remaining folders? Somehow she doubted it; perhaps that's where the catch lay?
"What happens if I don't win any more folders?" Rachel asked, her voice beginning to creak with emotion.
"You haven't lost yet." Nelson answered smoothly.
"I know, but what happens if I do and you still have some folders left." She demanded. "Will you give them to me?"
Nelson glanced at Jensen whose eyes remained fixed on Rachel's breasts.
"Perhaps we can reach some other arrangement should that become necessary." Nelson replied.
"No!" Rachel said defiantly. "You said looking only — that's what we agreed on!"
She was already reaching for her blouse when he waved his hand dismissively. "And I haven't suggested anything more than that. We could try something else."
"Like what?" Her hand stopped, poised over her fallen blouse.
"Like standing up for instance," He replied. "You haven't moved from that seat — if you stood up, we might see a little more of you."
"For a folder?"
"If you like," He lifted a folder from his pile and held it suspended in the air. "But you will have to turn around — slowly mind. And remain on your feet from now on — turning when we ask you?"
Rachel thought for a moment. It would move the odds closer in her favour by leaving her with just three more folders to collect. Slowly she eased herself out of her chair to stand before them and felt her face reddening.