It's not something that one gets into lightly, or by accident. With the expense of seven years of academic labor looming, it was something to mull over, all my considerable moral qualms aside. My physical attributes, bearing, intellectual background, as well as certain personality traits lent themselves well to the requirements of the certain players in the scene. That's what they don't tell you on Wikipedia. You have to either have something others lack, or be missing something that others possess. After all I've experienced, I still have been unable to determine which of those are true. And perhaps, that's how it should be: suspended between the fantasy that we're all striving for, and the reality that we all know lurks just beyond the dungeon door. The greedy, jealous monster of the everyday, that aims to consume us with responsibilities, deadlines, mendacity, and the never ending search for the missing mate to the sock that already on the wrong foot. This is brief story of my four sordid months after finishing law school. Of my experience with him, Mr. Eleven.
Looking back, it was all Cain's fault. He's was the one who was always networking. Looking for suitors, he called it. Cain was my sensei, shall we say, who brought me into the scene. He was the first that I studied under, and we remain fast friends to this day. Cain needed a date to the fundraiser, and given that he was always trying to impress a client, he wanted to go with the celebrity; me. I still can never say no to Cain, although now it's usually looking after his twin boys when he and Mrs. Cain need some time off from my godsons. Times and favors change, I suppose. I had no idea at the time that he invited me primarily to introduce me to my next (and last) client. Good old Cain, always looking out for me.
"You're going to wear the red one, right?" I could hear Cain's voice through my bedroom door and the sound of Dresden Dolls in my earbuds. Shaking my head in irritation, I paused the track and stuck my head out the door.
"Of course, MASTER!" I shouted, my voice dripping with sarcasm. Typically, there would have been quite the thrashing in line for me for such insubordination, but given we weren't "on the clock", I let my smart mouth run off. I heard a laugh followed by a stern grumble. Popping my mp3 player on the dock, I shut the door, letting the towel covering me drop, and turned the sound all the way up:
Missed me, missed me, now you've got to kiss me.
I strolled leisurely to my closet, unhampered by clothing. This is magic hour, the getting-ready time that gets me all fired up to do what I do best, which can be anything from arguing for the rights of a foreign diplomat to kneeling in corner wearing nothing but a pair of over the knee Christian Dior boots and a decorous smile.
If you kiss me, mister, I might tell my sister.
If I tell her, mister, she might tell my mother and my
mother, mister, she might tell my father and my father,
mister, he won't be too happy and he'll have his lawyer
come up from the city and arrest you, mister,
My dear family, I couldn't have imagined what they would have thought, if they knew how their little girl paid for her education. I selected the "red dress of doom" or RDOD a strapless little number, which could only be held up by sheer will and a heroic amount of double-sided tape. Or a certain secret weapon. After slipping on a pair of sky-high, red peeptoe stilettos (my black boots were being reheeled, seems like they were always in need of that back then) I made a quick stop at my lingerie drawer, plucking out the black corset and lace bikini that I picked up on my last trip to Milan. Study abroad is a beautiful thing, I smiled at my reflection. Although, I thought, if Dad was going to hire a lawyer, as the songs goes, it would be me. That might make things a little awkward.
so I wouldn't miss me if you get me, mister, see?
I slipped into the undergarments with some assistance from dear Cain. He'd seen me with much less on, in much more prostrate positions. More importantly, he knows that getting a corset to fit properly is a two-man effort. He pulled roughly on the delicate but strong ties, pulling me against him as he did so. I knew what this sort of thing would lead to with him, so once my corset was tightly secure, I stepped demurely away, slipping the RDOD up over my legs. He hunched his shoulders a little, which made his huge chest look even larger. He reached forward to zip up the back of the dress, and pulled me into his arms. I looked up at him dubiously, until he started singing:
Missed me, missed, me now you've got to kiss me.
If you kiss me, mister, you must think I'm pretty.
If you think so, mister, you must want to fuck me.
If you fuck me, mister, it must mean you love me.
If you love me, mister, you would never leave me
it's as simple as can be!
I sang along too, and I lean into him in a fit of giggles. He smiled down at me, and planted a kiss on the top of my head.
"Better hurry up, kiddo. The ballroom opens in 20 minutes" He said, playfully swatting at my rump as he exited the room. I grinned after him. Things have always been different with Cain, we've always been able to separate our dungeon life from real life. He's the only client I've ever had who I stayed in contact with, let alone friends.
I headed into the bathroom to apply my makeup, as well as tame my long black hair. With my father's side from Sicily, and my mother's from Seoul, thick raven tresses were a given. I look a bit more like my father's side, with my olive complexion and curves. My black eyes and short stature are the main traits that came from my mother. The fiercely, fiery independent streak? I got a double dose of that. I swept my hair back into a low ponytail, brushing the front back, and letting the top layers fall freely. I applied a swipe of jet black eyeliner, extending past the corners just slightly, and dusted my eyelids with smoky grey. My lipstick matched the RDOD perfectly. Taking one last glance in the mirror, I grabbed a red sequin clutch and head out the door, draped on Cain's arm as fittingly as the pashmina shawl draped over mine.
The reception hall was at the Palmer House, one of my favorite places in my adopted city. The ceiling of the lobby is alive with vibrant vignettes of the greatest hits of Grecian antiquity. I cast my eyes skyward, and although it seems like I've been here a thousand times, I always find something new and interesting. Cain was used to this ritual, so he steadied my gait as he led me into the lobby.
"Seems that someone rented out the whole place," his whispered to me. My eyes froze and I stopped dead. "The entire hotel? I didn't even think that was possible." My gaze now swept the room, searching for anyone who might have pockets even near that deep. My search came up empty.
"That's what the rumor is. If you're lucky, I might even introduce you to the evening's primary benefactor." Cain smiled slyly down at me, and I threw him a skeptical look.
"Oh please, Cain West, like you know anyone with that kind of pull. I'm beginning to think you're gate crashing this little soiree."
"You're quite fortunate you're not clocked in, Ms. Sarci. And that you're not under my thumb at the moment." Cain's tone was playful, but his hazel eyes were deadly serious. I stuck my lip out in protest, but decided it's best to drop it. After four years of friendship, and two years of something other than that on occasion, I knew it was best not to push Cain. A drunken evening in the future may lead to s/D time, and he tended to hold grudges. It's all part of the game, and he'd never really hurt me, but that didn't make his punishments any less unpleasant.
While our last experience together drifted through my mind, Cain led me through the crowd. I mechanically nodded at various suits and expensive dresses, smiling on cue and remaining silent. I found then, as I do now, that I tend to get overzealous in social situations, and talk a bit too much when nervous. It's a boon to my chosen profession, having so many words to say to rationalize or criticize any viewpoint at my leisure, but I had gotten more than my fair share of blank stares before I came to conclusion that silence is golden. In the end, no one wants to hear about the consular notification obligations of the Vienna Convention in passing conversation.
Cain had twitched his shoulder slightly and I returned to reality. And what a reality it was. Before me stood the telecommunications magnate himself, the corporate wunderkind that one of my professors have devoted a whole chapter on. Mr. Christian Grey. He's quite handsome, up close, although his copper locks really didn't do it for me. I sized him up with an appraising eye; he wore an impeccably-cut dark graphite suit, with a dress shirt of faintest blue, open at the collar. No tie for Mr. Benefactor. His hair was fashionably disheveled, in the matter that my father would tell him to get a haircut, but it suited him well. Our eyes met for the first time. His were striking shade of grey, light on the outside of the iris, and fading to black towards their pupils. I had heard that those eyes would make any woman melt at his feet. I however, was not that woman. With all the laser intensity that came from that silver gaze, my smoky eyes absorbed every fragment of it like a gravitational singularity and shot back a look of blackest night. I could tell by the slight twitch in his well groomed brows, and the even more slight dilation of his pupils that he was not accustomed this kind of first impression.
"Mr. Grey, this is my associate, Estele Sarci. I believe you were interested in coming to an agreement." Grey smiled at me, his momentary lapse in control quickly recovered; drinking in the dress like it was champagne.
Cain had spilled the beans, and I was less than happy about it, but I didn't let on immediately. Grabbing his hand firmly, I politely excused us, and led him to a corner.
"That guy? This is your big surprise?" I glared up at Cain, who smiled sheepishly.
"I thought you'd be pleased. You said you were looking for a final client, one to get you out of debt completely. And I brought you the biggest fish in the pond."
"Lovely way of putting it, old friend. It's going to look like you're my pimp." Cain stifled a laugh at this.
"You're your own 'pimp' Stel. No man could ever really tell you what to do. Which is exactly why you're so good at convincing them that they can."
"Thanks for the compliment, "I said, exasperated. "I thought I told you I don't do gingers."
Cain laughed out loud at this one, taking a quick conspiratorial look over his shoulder. "Damn it, don't make me laugh like that without a warning. Besides, I would classify him as a 'day-walker'" He poked me in my restricted ribcage. I glared up at him.
"I'm going to need to know if he has any freckles in, um, how to do I put this lightly, unexpected and unpleasant places. Redheads always seem to, and I don't want to go in blind. Remember Mr. Eight? Arthur Salvatore?" Cain just about doubled over, and I managed a small grin while he recovered.
"How was I supposed to know that Eight had a tattoo of his mother's face on his stomach and another of his two little sisters on his back?" My eyes widened at the memory. The amount of time I had spent staring into that woman's face while submitting to her son…
"Agghh" I whispered, and shook the memory away.
"Anyway," Cain continued, "this guy has a lot of anti-touching quirks, rumor has it. He found the dungeon online, and really wants to meet you."
"Gah. Probably wants me to dye my hair brown or something. I'm well aware of what a Christian Grey contract entails. Word gets around, NDA notwithstanding"
Cain lightly brushed his hand on my head. "That's a hard limit for me," he says.
Shaking my hair in slight annoyance, I relented. "Alright, I guess I trust you. Let's go meet Mr. Grey."
"You go ahead, Stel. I think he's only interested in talking to you anyhow. He's the jealous type. Good luck."
I narrow my eyes one more time at my friend, and turn to meet my new "date" of the evening.