Adam LaFleur smiled and winked at the receptionist behind the counter. She blushed and managed a smile of her own before turning her head down and answering the phone.
As he made his way up in the elevator to his office, he outright laughed at his good fortune. It was 1950 and he was on top of the world as one of the richest men on earth. He had everything he could ever want. Money, cars, women, houses all over the country, and so many friends he could barely remember all their names. Life was great.
The elevator doors opened and Adam stepped out and headed towards his embarrassingly large office. When he opened the door and walked in he discovered a cute little number sitting in a chair before his desk.
At the sound of his footsteps the woman stood and turned. It was Grace, this latest woman. She was head over heels for him and he knew it. He liked the thought of a woman who would do anything he told her to. He was very much inclined to keep this one for a few more weeks before moving on to the next gal.
"Grace," Adam said as he took the woman's hand and pulled her to him. He gave her a long, slow kiss and then released her. "What can I do for you hon?"
"I want to know what this is all about!" she cried as she threw a handful of pictures at him.
Adam chuckled and gave Grace a sideways look as he bent down to pick up the pictures. He rifled through them. Each one had him necking with one woman after another. There was Claudia last Thursday. Suzette on Wednesday. Mary on Saturday. He kept his smile from showing as he thought of those nights.
"What were you doing with them?"
"Gracie, sweetheart, you know it's nothing serious. I have an image to uphold. None of them meant anything to me. None of them make me feel the way you do." Throwing the pictures into the chair Grace had vacated, Adam took the woman into his arms and cuddled her close, stroking her beautiful, blond hair.
She struggled against him and then managed to push him away. "What is your image when you say you love me? It shouldn't matter what everyone else thinks. All you have to do is tell them you're in love with me and that's why you don't entertain all these other…these other…tramps!"
"Grace, come on now." He reached out for her as he thought about it. Love, what a stupid notion. He'd doted on her and took her out, he'd even managed to get her into bed with him, but he didn't love her. He'd never loved anyone in his entire life. Not even his parents. They'd lefts him in the streets when he was just a kid, not able to fend for himself, all because he was another mouth to feed. He snorted inwardly. Why did women always think that because a man gave them gifts meant he loved them? They're such stupid creatures.
"No I won't 'come on now!'" she yelled. "My friends warned me about you but I didn't listen. I thought they were all wrong! You were so nice and caring, I thought that maybe everyone only saw one side of you in public. But now I know there iis/i only one side to you. You're a creep! That's all you are. You lie, cheat, and I'll bet you even steal, how else could you have kept your company floating for so long?" She stood there, her entire body shaking with her anger.
Suddenly she pulled something from her clutch purse. It was a brown bottle, the size of her palm. She pulled out the cork and threw the contents on Adam.
"What the hell woman!" Adam yelled as he grabbed out his handkerchief and started rubbing the stinking liquid off his face. When he was mostly dry he looked over at Grace, she was standing there, muttering something he couldn't understand.
Then his stomach began to cramp. He doubled over in pain. His hand lashed out and grabbed the back of the chair for support. "What the hell did you throw on me," he choked out as his knees gave way, his one hand still clutching the chair.
"Adam LaFleur, from this day onward you will be what you are; a beast! Everyone will see your hideousness. There will be no more women and no more success. No one will want to even think of you!" She threw the bottle down and it shattered on the marble floor.
"I'm sorry!" he growled, startling himself with his new voice.
This made Grace stop just before she opened the door. Turning, she looked at Adam and her heart wrenched. She had loved him. Didn't she know some of his past? Didn't she know that such a horrible childhood could only produce something so horrible? Was it really all his fault?
With a small sigh Grace returned to Adam and stood over him. "Because I'm not as horrible as you are, I will give you until the turn of the century to find someone who will love you despite the way you look. Someone who must love you, knowing that you look awful because you are awful. You must truly love them and they must truly love you in return or else by the time the clock strikes midnight on the eve of the of the new century, you will stay this way forever." With that she turned and left the room, her footfalls echoing achingly inside Adam's heart.
When she had gone and Adam had finally recovered himself, he looked at his hands. The one still gripping the chair had managed to rip through the leather upholstery with its new claws. The one on the floor had gouged deep lines in the smooth stone.
Footsteps coming towards his office. Adam jumped up, surprised by his agility, and ran to cut the lights and close the blinds.
Someone knocked on the door. "Come in," he said, his voice deep and gravelly now. The door opened slowly.
"Um, sir?" his secretary said from the doorway. "Are you alright? Why is it so dark in here? Let me turn on some lights."
"No!" his voice boomed in the cavernous room, making the woman jump. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to yell. I-I have a headache and the lights hurt my eyes.
"Oh, I'm sorry, sir. Well here are the reports you wanted."
"Leave them there."
"O-on the floor, sir?"
"Yes! And send Harold to me, I'd like to speak with him."
"Alright, sir." She left, the door clicking shut behind her.
It was ten minutes before Harold entered the office. He came halfway to the chairs before Adam's desk and stopped. Something didn't seem right.
"Are you feeling okay, Adam?"
"I'm fine. I need you to do something."
"Ok, what is it?"
"I need to get away for a while. I need to go someplace remote, where no one will be able to find me."
"Any place you have in mind?"
"You've got to be joking! It's gotta be freezing up there right now. Don't you want some place warmer?"
"No! I want you to buy as many men as you can and send them up there to build me a house. It's got to be close to, but still far away from civilization. I don't want to be bothered. I want this house built in the next two weeks."
"Do it!" he yelled, scaring Harold into action.