Pleasure. That is what I do, well, not directly. I am a facilitator of pleasure, sexual pleasure, through my company, Euphoria, Inc. But it stands to reason that people who don't know me, the real me, may assume I, Olivia Pope, am a master or mistress-for those less progressive consumers-of pleasure.
The blush coloring the intern's fair skin while she said, "Ms. Pope, thank you for giving us the pleasure of your presence," was an indication of those assumptions. Upon realizing the presumed double entendre in her words, she blushed a deeper shade of bright red and exchanged her sweet smile for a look of embarrassed horror.
"Oh, Ms. Pope, I didn't mean…I meant," she stammered.
Smiling brightly, Olivia lightly tapped her hand. "Oh, the pleasure was all mine…Ana, right?"
The girl bobbed her head and stepped back as Olivia's driver opened the door to the black sedan. Olivia slipped inside the darkened interior, surprised to see Abby, chief operations officer for Euphoria, Inc, seated inside.
She frowned. Abby was not where she was supposed to be. Olivia didn't like it when things didn't go as planned.
"I'll never understand it, Liv. You reduce men and women, young and old, to starry-eyed, drooling idiots," Abby said, taking one last look at the intern before they eased into traffic.
"It's not real Abby. They aren't drooling over me. It's what I represent. I am the CEO of a company that sells sex toys and all the accouterments. I sell sex," Olivia said.
"You empower women to live healthy and vital lives by exploring all facets of their sensuality, achieving increasing heights of sexual excitement by harnessing the power of orgasm through a vast array of erotic toys and lingerie. That is not selling sex. It's empowerment, connection, experiencing your true essence, isn't that right, Ben?" Abby said.
Ben's eyes flashed at them in the rearview mirror. He'd been Olivia's driver for 5 years and privy to these types of conversations as well as many other aspects of Olivia's professional and personal life.
"Right, Ms. Whelan. My wife and I are more connected than we've ever been since you all gave me that gift to give to her…the Calla Lily…it is-" Ben said, smiling.
"We know, Ben. It's from our flower line. It was all in your smile," said Abby.
Olivia looked impatient. "My point exactly. We have a healthy male customer base and not just for our couples product. They want sex, but Abby I know you aren't here, away from the office, to educate me on what Euphoria sells…" Olivia said forcefully, changing the energy in the car.
The whir of the mechanical partition going up sounded immediately. Ben didn't need to be prompted to give them privacy to deal with whatever bad news Abby carried.
When they partition was fully closed, Abby sighed and faced Olivia. "The launch of Spa Bliss is stalled, Liv. We're up shit's creek because we may have to ask Vanity Fair to pull your interview from today or redo it without announcing the launch. Esther is working on alternatives now. And I'm sorry we didn't find out about this before the interview. Literally, I got the call an hour ago so I've set up meetings-" Abby frantically explained.
"Abby, Abby, stop!" Olivia said, shaking her head in disbelief, "Slow down. Spa Bliss cannot be stalled. Everything is on schedule for next month's opening. So where is this coming from? Do we need more funding? Did our lease fall through? Did our manager quit? What is it? Because whatever it is I can fix it," promised Olivia.
Abby looked sad and stricken for the first time since the conversation ensued. "You can't fix this, Olivia. The freaking governor of New York has passed a moratorium on any new businesses in the adult industry. Yes, we jumped through all hoops to get our respective licenses, but this just cropped up today. There was a fax, an e-mail, and a call from Governor Grant's office sent out to all the businesses in our industry due to open in this cycle. We're royally screwed, Liv, as I have no idea when this thing will be lifted. This is Esther's fault. She's our public relations guru. She should have anticipated this," Abby said.
Olivia pulled out her cell phone and began swiping through the screens. "No. Damn it, this is my fault. I should have known. This is an election year. Grant wants another term. This is a stunt to appeal to conservatives or whatever group launched…a…petition," said Olivia, flashing the phone to Abby.
Abby snatched the phone from Olivia before beginning to read the screen. " 'Morality Watch Petition…Considering the high concentration of sex shops, strip clubs, and other adult oriented businesses, we the undersigned, demand the Governor put a moratorium on all new businesses in the adult industry' how in the hell did they get…is that forty thousand signatures?" said Abby.
Olivia grabbed her phone back. "Abby, you need to calm down. Let me think."
Cyrus and Fitz clinked their tumblers together.
"Congratulations, Governor…and I mean to a second term, sir," said Cyrus.
Fitz cracked a lazy smile and sauntered over to the sofa with Cyrus following behind. They sat on opposite sides. Cyrus didn't take a sip of his scotch, waiting for Fitz to go first.
"Well, Cy, I'm not one for counting my chickens before they hatch, but I hope to accept your congratulations in a few short months," Fitz said, before turning up the tumbler to this lips.
Cyrus followed suit, trying not to let his distaste for the drink show on his face.
"It's a done deal after that petition cropped up. It's done and we have the holy rollers off our backs," said Cyrus.
Fitz leaned over to place his glass on the table. Leaning back he considered, Cyrus. "How many businesses did you say were affected?" Fitz asked.
"Less than 20…all lightweights I suspect," Cyrus answered.
Fitz raised his eyebrows. "You suspect? I thought you examined each of them for possible problems in the future so you said and I quote, 'they won't come back and bite us in the butt.'"
"Sir, I wasn't able to personally check each one of them out. I had someone trustworthy do it, looking for heavyweights, any allies, or rabble-rousers. Trust me. We are okay. Now sir, I hate to bring this up, but we need to start…"
Fitz rolled his eyes, "I know, Cy. We need to get me dating. I've passed the year mark since Mellie's death and the focus groups tell me I need to get out there. I know the drill, but I don't have to get out there tonight. I'm going to bask in my almost victory and have dinner with my children," said Fitz with a sad smile.
Just a little idea rolling around in my head. Pray that I can update it more often as well as my others. Thanks for reading.