Memories are our windows into our pasts, in a single moment one person can alter your future.
Tony Stark smirked as he climbed out of his Audi R8 and straightened the lapels of his tuxedo jacket, the screams of delight that women gave whenever he would appear always made him feel good, amongst other screams he heard from women.
It was his 43rd birthday, most men get antsy when they his that age but thanks to his mini arc reactor he felt as strong as a man in his twenties. He strode up the red carpet to the hotel where his celebration was taking place, he had the self confidant walk of a man who had it all, looks, money, fame and a huge fan base thanks to his outside interests. Although giving up the weapons trade had affected the stock of his company coming out as Iron Man had done wonders for the company's image.
Tonight he was not only celebrating his birthday but the new partnership between Stark Industries and Evans International one of his former rival companies. It was run by the daughter of an old family friend Catalina Evans a 23 year old business and technological genius, her company and intelligence had rivalled his own for some time until she approached him with a tempting business deal, to stop the rivalry and merge the two companies .
Now as he entered the lobby of the hotel and made his way to the main function room he couldn't help but wonder about his new partner. He hadn't seen Catalina since she was 13 and going off to MIT, she used to have such a crush on his. He still pictured her as that smart assed little teen with the big blue eyes and curly blond hair, she had just his puberty and he could already see that she would grow into a very attractive woman.
He entered the room and acted shocked at the sound of surprise being yelled and the loud applause he received, he smiled for the cameras, kissed cheeks and shook hands and saw vaguely familiar women he must have slept with at some point. He cringed when he saw Kristy Everheart, that pesky reporter that kept popping up at the worst time. Ever since that night they'd met in Vegas and subsequently ended up having a one nighter she had taken it upon her self to hound him.
He downed a scotch on the rocks and prepared for another of her flirtatious interrogations, and was surprised when she strode straight past him towards an attractive young woman with her back towards him. He overheard Kristy asking similar questions to the interview that he had first had with her. He didn't catch the woman's name though.
"Miss…., you've been called a modern day Marie Currie, what do you have to say about that?"
"Ludicrous, I don't play with radium"
"and your other nickname the Ice Queen?"
"That one I like, although does the fact that I have an abhorrence of the press really make me an ice queen? I just don't like nosey little bitches who feel the need to pry into every aspect of my private life"
"Why? Do you have something to hide?"
"Everyone has secrets Ms Everheart, now if you'll excuse me I have other matter to attend to"
The woman walked past her and headed towards the stage. Smirking, Tony walked over to the reporter.
"Not much luck with that one either?"
The pretty woman turned to the playboy and scowled.
"you and here would get along famously"
"who was she anyway" he asked
She gave him an 'are you serious' look.
"you're kidding right? That was Catalina Evans, you new business partner" she replied
Tony turned in disbelief and stared at the young woman now standing up behind the podium, her face enhanced on the two mega screens on either side of her. The lights dimmed and everyone turned to the stage. The screens darkened and a voiceover and side show introduction started up.
Catalina Evans is the only child of the late Industrial Tycoon Trent Evans, a child prodigy in computer and biomedical science Catalina graduated from high school at age 12 and had completed a master's degree at MIT by the age of 16, she took over her fathers company at age 20 when he passed away from a stroke. Now at age 23 she runs Evans International with an iron will and solid plans to make this world a better place.
Tony was amazed at the young woman shown on the screens, the perky little blond had grown up quite a bit. Gone were the uncontrollable blond ringlets and the rosey cheeks of pubescence, she was now a tall and quite stunning young woman. Her hair was cut just below her shoulders and layered so that the natural curls bounced up loosely, coloured a vibrant burgundy that made her bright blue eyes stand out amazingly. The once straight lines of her body had matured and given way to the full and luscious curves of real woman, she now boasted full breast and hips separated by a well defined hourglass figure that put Marilyn Monroe to shame.
Her body was sheathed in a dark purple halter dress that had a sweet heart neckline, held up by two wide strips of see through fabric of the same colour. The top and hem were detailed with intricate purple bead work. The dress clung to her body showing off every inch of her strong body. Hardly an inch of fat any where.
She had a strong stubborn jaw line with full lips, high cheekbones and a straight delicate nose, she was of Scandinavian decent and it showed in her features. Such an unusual face was more striking than beautiful, a mischievous dimple situated in the right corner of her mouth winked in and out of sight with every smile.
"Well…that pretty much covers my life huh, who knew that 23 years could be condescend into a 15 second voice over" she laughed
"On behalf of my company I would life to extend my gratitude to all of you for coming to our little shindig this evening, to no only celebrate the birthday of a man who has been an inspiration not only to me, but to so many in this great country and the new biomedical research facility that is the first of many joint ventures between Evans International and Stark Industries. So ladies and Gentlemen I ask you to raise your glasses to my old friend Tony Stark…Tony Happy Birthday, may you have many more to come. Salute!" she called out raising her glass of champagne.
"SALUTE!" called everyone
She dipped her head slightly at Tony, the dimple winking at him as she smiled, she took a sip of her drink he eyes watching him from over the rim of her wine glass. She placed the glass on the tray of a passing waiter and strode over to him. He hips undulated with ever measured step of her heels.
She approached him with a full smile of delight.
"Tony Stark, its been a long time" she said slyly as she embraced the industrialist.
"it certainly has Catalina" he replied.
He hugged her tightly feeling her body mould easily to his, enjoying the feeling of her breasts pressed up against his chest. His hands pressed against her back could feel the strong muscles under the dress. They separated and he looked the young woman over appreciatively.
"Look at you, I haven't seen you since you were heading off for your freshman year at MIT, you look so different from that perky little blonde I saw drive off ten years ago" his voice took on a nostalgic tone.
She smiled at the older man.
"Well I should hope so; you know you haven't changed a bit since I last saw you either. You are still the most handsome man that I know"
Her eyes darkened with attraction.
The pair had completely forgotten about the blond reporter standing close by, taking note of the banter between the two billionaires. This would make a juicy piece for the gossip column. She walked off with a satisfied smile on her pretty face.
Tony lead Catalina on to the dance floor and the pair moved around with all the other dancing couples. He noticed how natural it felt to hold her in his arms, he still could not believe that this gorgeous woman that he was entering a partnership with was the daughter of one of his family's friends. Suddenly feeling claustrophobic he clasped her hand and directed Catalina out onto the balcony, he leaned back against the rail and watched the young woman stare out over the city lights.
She turned and looked back at him, her eye lids were lowered and a soft smile graced her lips.
"Tony can I be honest with you, I did this business deal with you through the lawyers because I was nervous about seeing you"
He looked confused.
"Why would you be nervous?"
Her blue eyes connected with his brown ones and held his gaze.
"because when I was a kid I was completely in love with you, and I was worried that if I saw you I would feel like a teenager again"
He sniggered a bit.
"come on, Catalina I'm twenty years older than you. As if you would be in love with a guy my age"
He face remained serious.
"Actually you're exactly the kind of man I would pursue, I find older men much more attractive. I cannot hold an intelligent conversation with anyone else."
She took a deep breath
"I admit that I find you very attractive and am fighting the urge to kiss you senseless right now, so in order to make this business deal work I am going to be logical and keep this relationship strictly plutonic"
Tony actually looked a bit disappointed, but he felt the same way so all he could do was agree.
"That's why I am going to force my self only to do this once"
He looked up just as Catalina slid her arms around his neck and pressed her lips against his, he was surprised for a second before wrapping his arms around her waist and responding with gusto. He knew he was a good kisser but this young woman had skill that he had never felt before. Her lips were so soft and inviting and when she opened his mouth and slid her tongue in he almost lost control. He had kissed a lot of women in his time but he couldn't remember enjoying it this much.
When they finally came up for air, Catalina pressed her forehead against his and breathed deeply for a second before pulling her self out of his arms and straightening her dress. She reapplied her lip stick and turned back to Tony, he still looked a bit dazed. She stroked his cheek and smiled gently.
"Ok, so now that we go that out of our systems, I'm going to go and say bye to all the pretentious yes men in there and then I am going to head home because I have a full day tomorrow. Now don't forget we have a meeting tomorrow at 2:30, and I know how u are with punctuality so if you are even 30 seconds late I will kick your ass"
She said with a grin, he nodded.
She kissed him on the cheek and walked back into the party, leaving Tony standing there absolutely kicking himself. After about 10 minutes and seeing Catalina walk down the red carpet and get into her limo he walked back into the party, ordered a drink and found the nearest attractive female to hang out with. He woke up late the next morning with a slight hangover and a woman whose name he couldn't remember laying face down next to him.
He go up, downed a cup of espresso, had a hot shower and headed down to his work shop to do some upgrades on his Iron Man suite. He buzzed Pepper to get her to show the woman out.
As he was tweaking the servo motors in the knee mechanisms he had the midmorning news on, he had tuned out for most of the reports until the news caster mentioned an armed robbery.
An attempted robbery at the Malibu National Bank was foiled last night not by the police or even our own resident Iron Man, while Tony Stark was seen celebrating his birthday at the fabulous Malibu Grand Hotel an unknown individual stopped three heavily armed men from stealing over 15 million dollars from the bank vault. This unknown hero was wearing a blue metal suite similar in design to that of Iron Man, however this was no man. An expert that analysed the security footage state that this new suite appears more advanced and of a smaller design that appears to be for a woman. Reporters have dubbed this individual the Iron Maiden, Iron Man it looks like you may have some competition on your hands.
Tony was shocked at this report, during the news cast Pepper had come down into the shop with the mail and Tony's schedule for the day. He turned to his faithful assistant.
"Did you know anything about this?" he said motioning to the TV.
Pepper looked a bit bored.
"No I just saw the report upstairs after I sent your lady friend on her way home, she left her number and email for you"
He just looked at her
"That's what I thought, ok so today you have a meeting with the board of directors at 11, you're checking the progress of the mini arc reactors with the engineers at 12:30 and then you're having lunch with Lt Col. Rhodes and then your meeting with Miss Evans at 2:30. I guess we'll figure this Iron Maiden business out later"
He smiled at his assistant and thanked her; she turned and walked back up the stairs the sound of her high heels echoed up into the living area.
He informed JARVIS to finish working on the suit and find out anything he could about this other iron person.
He put on one of his many expensive business suits, fixed his hair and trimmed his goatee. When he was happy with his appearance he walked down into the shop, jumped into his choice of car for the day and drove off to Stark Industries.
Catalina's Office 2:00
Catalina was sitting at her desk looking at the holographic image of her exo suite, a hologram of an attractive blond woman appeared next to her.
"Last night's exercise proved successful I believe" she said in a soft British accent.
Catalina's eyebrows were knitted in concentration as she focussed on a component on the right wrist mechanism.
"The third concussion pad in the second row was .5 seconds late on impact, increase electromagnetic output by .05 gigs and rotate by 7 degrees clockwise, which should increase reaction time and impact ratio. And although the test went well I wish that the media hadn't found out, Iron Maiden...Come on I mean how many copy right laws are they breaking by calling me that, and how do they know if I am a maiden."
The hologram simply nodded and made the necessary adjustments.
"On an unrelated topic Cat, how did the party go last night? Was Tony like you remembered him?"
She stared at the hologram and sighed
"The party was the usual shit, ass kissers, pretentious darlings, and the rich people who pretend they actually give a damn. The people that actually care about the world never seem to turn up"
"And Mr Stark?" she prodded
"Tony was even more handsome than I remembered; he's one of those guys that no matter what age he is he will still be good looking. He was charming, sexy, and he was a fantastic kisser" she replied with a tight voice.
The hologram was not satisfied
"Why do you sound upset? If he was everything you thought he would be"
Catalina put down her tool and leaned back in her chair.
"Because it made it al the more difficult to tell him that we couldn't get involved other than as friends and business partners"
The hologram slapped its virtual head with the palm of it's hand.
"You know for a woman with your level of intelligence you really can be a complete idiot some times"
She glared at the holographic woman.
"Sylia, there is a difference between intelligence and wisdom"
Sylia shrugged her holographic shoulders
"Any way your meeting with Mr Stark is scheduled to begin in 20 minutes, I suggest that you freshen up"
The holographic woman shut off leaving Catalina to put on a clean suit and fix her make up. She put on her favourite black suit with the pleated knee length skirt and the form fitting jacket that was moulded to her figure. Underneath her wore a white silk v neck blouse and skin colour stockings that she loved to rub together cause it made her legs feel sexy. The outfit was completed with her 4in black stiletto heels with the buckles across the bridge of her foot, she kept a pair of cushion soled flat sandals under her desk for when her feet started to hurt, which usually happened after the six hour mark.
She reapplied her make up so that her face was once again flawless, she took a light brown eye liner pencil and coloured in the small beauty mark that was next to her right eye. She pulled her now straight hair back into a high bun and secured it with a butterfly clip. Every inch the successful and attractive business woman, she invoked all her confidence to face that man that still made her heart pound and to find the strength to resist him…for now.
End Chapter 1.