This is so nerve-wracking. I am talking to people online on GoodReads, where Dreamspinner Press has a site. It's one of those "Meet the Author" events. Sometimes, there is a lot of activity, at other times there is a long pause. Like, long enough to do a whole kata. Speaking of which, GrimmIchi fans, I submitted "Breakfall" to a publisher today (DSP again). I'll keep you posted.
I can't send you a URL to the "Meet the Author" chat, but I can send you a25% discount to all of my titles, and anything under the kink/BDSM genre tab on Dreamspinner Press' site.
And now, the last chapter I'm allowed to post for you:
I shook Grimmjow Jeagerjacques' hand. It was warm and pleasant, yet his strong grip got so firm, I had to squeeze back in self-defense. I saw his eyebrow arch, grin still plastered to his face.
"If you'd care to follow me, Mr. Jeagerjacques." I extricated my hand. Only pride kept me from rubbing it better. I spun on my heel and preceded him to my office. Yamada trailed behind us, his big, brown eyes all shiny and wide and helpful. Usually I'd chase him away, but I figured with Yamada around as a witness, my new client was less likely to kill me.
Normally, these presentations were routine. Find out what they want, show them your plan, discuss a mutual course of action, see how much they want to spend. No problem, right? Yet the familiarity of this fairly routine process eluded me today. For one, I couldn't make eye contact. It was in my best interest to stay away from those bewitching, impossibly blue eyes. I felt Jeagerjacques brush against me as he settled into the client chair; his warm, exciting personal scent assaulted my senses and, suddenly, I forgot where I was.
Shit. What am I doing, again?
"Um, sorry…here we go," I tried to hum in a reassuring way, only to find my voice quaver the slightest bit. I shot a glare at the man who bore holes into me with his amused gaze. All of a sudden I had to get away from him – just for a bit. I needed to compose myself. Yamada raised his eyebrows, asking if I need any help. I dumped the content of my right trouser pocket on my desk; a familiar, silver flash drive appeared along with two pens and a packet of cinnamon gum.
"Can I offer you something to drink? Coffee? Water?" My voice felt a bit steadier than before.
"Coffee would be great. Black, three sugars," Jeagerjacques said.
I nodded at Yamada. "Please give Mr. Jeagerjacques a copy of the presentation, would you? I'll go get his coffee."
"You need to breathe," I kept telling myself. I'd inhale deep, and exhale very, very slowly, repeating the action over and over while I assembled the tray with our white, gold-rimmed client coffee cup on top of its dainty saucer and a small bowl of honey-roasted nuts.
Then I spilled the coffee and had to clean it up and start all over again, which is why I took so long getting back.
Yamada was walking down the hall.
"Oh there you are, I was getting worried, Mr. Kurosaki. You sure look like you need some help today. I got your laptop prepped and hooked up. You're ready to go!"
"Er…thank you, Hanatarou." I felt my stride lengthen in an effort to get there sooner and take control of the situation, Yamada's helpful demeanor filling me with a sense of foreboding.
My shiny, black shoe pushed the door open as I maneuvered the coffee tray inside.
"Here you go, …" My voice died in my throat. My laptop was all prepped, alright. Hooked up to the projector, the silver flash drive was already in its USB port. My client sat stiff and motionless in the client chair, his eyes riveted to the projector screen. The sound was turned very low, but even so both he and I could hear the unmistakable sounds of pleasure from the man in the video. The eerie lighting showed him in stark, almost baroque light-and-shadow contrast; the inflated picture blurred the outlines somewhat but even so, there was no mistaking his identity.
I got in the way of the projector beam, depositing the coffee tray on my desk with haste, reaching to pull the stupid, treacherous flash drive out of my laptop.
The man on the screen ejaculated onto my pristine, white shirt.
I shot a distressed look at my guest. He stared back at me, motionless, his wide grin gone.
As fast as I could, I put my desk between us and ejected the flash drive from the system. My wallpaper came up: bigger than life and absolutely gorgeous, his angelic face in post-coital languor graced the projection screen.
"Sorry…" my voice was barely audible. "That was obviously the wrong presentation." Words spilled out of my mouth without the benefit of my brain regulating their content. I pocketed the flash drive and searched my other pocket. An identical device appeared in my hand. I plugged it in; the relaxed, almost monochromatic face on the projection screen was now partially obscured by a table of contents. I clicked on "WBB Proposal"; a slick, Power-Point presentation replaced the unspeakable scene from before.
"You got a hard copy?" I asked, instantly regretting my word choice. "I mean, a print-out." Heat crept up my neck, tomato-red, invading my face.
He looked at me, bereft of words.
Feeling moderately in charge once again, I picked up the blue-bound portfolio.
"All parts of the proposal are in here."
I couldn't say his name.
I just couldn't.
"It has a space for notes, if you want to take notes." Gods, my words got up and left. My customary eloquence disappeared. I just couldn't summon all those smooth, comforting phrases I've used for the last two years. I felt totally exposed and brand new, waiting for him to deliver his devastating strike.
His silence was unbearable.
My hand slid up my face to wipe the sweat off; I pressed against the tender flesh he had bruised so easily last night, and bit back a hiss of pain. Finally I turned the projector off and stood up and walked halfway around my desk. My butt leaned against it as I crossed my arms, staring into his shocked, pale face.
"Just…just say something."
"I know you're really mad and I don't blame you. I'm so sorry you had to see that." I didn't say I was sorry that I saw that, and I knew he took note of my careful phrasing.
Grimmjow Jeagerjacques rose from the client chair. He was taller than me and seemed a bit stronger and I was already well-familiar with the power of his punch. Cowering would do me little good and besides, I had a thing against cowering.
I stood up straight and looked him in the eye.
It was his move.
Large hands grasped my lapels, pulling me in the slightest bit as he peered into my face. His gaze was icy cold and without apparent interest. He looked over the damage he'd done me last night, emotionless.
"Should have hit you harder, punk."
"You still can."
"Nah…you ain't worth it." He pushed me away hard; there was no time to regain my balance as I fell against the wall with an awkward thud and slid to the floor.
I scrambled to my feet, alarmed to see his back in the doorway.
"Wait. Don't go. The presentation…" My voice had an edge of raw panic, and that must have caught his attention because he turned back toward me.
"Oh yeah. Your precious presentation. Good thing I have a hard-copy." He smirked at my apparent discomfort.
"I'm so sorry," I blurted out. "So sorry…for everything. Isn't there anything I can do to make up for it?"
I saw him take two steps back inside my office and close the door.
"I don't know," he said, his voice edged with that cold, seething anger. "I don't know what you're good at."
"Whatever you say."
He startled, then paused.
"What didya say, punk?"
"I'll…I'll do whatever you say. Just…don't tell my boss." I gazed at him with entreaty. "Please," I added, my voice a mere whisper. Here I was with the object of my desire, my wildest fantasies, and…he was seething with barely contained rage. Justifiably so.
"Anything?" His face took on an intrigued expression. "Like, do the advertising campaign for free?"
"Anything that's mine to give," I said. "I won't steal from my employer."
"Ah, there is honor among thieves," he snarled. "You won't bite the hand that feeds you; anyone else is fair game."
"No. Not anyone." I paused. "You aren't fair game anymore."
I blushed and looked away. Just at that moment, my cell phone went off in my pocket.
I froze, the blood draining from my face.
"What the fuck was that?" He asked, his rage toned down by a hint of confusion.
"Sorry…let me answer that." To his utter shock I pulled my cell phone out of my pocket and declined the call, setting it on vibrate.
"Are you for fucking real?" He asked, coming closer to me. "What are you, some psycho stalker?"
I shook my head. "I…I didn't know you'd be home that night…" The oft-repeated word fell off my lips again: "Sorry…"
"I'll make you damn sorry. I'll give you one chance to convince me not to report you immediately."
I considered my options. There was the video; if I put it on YouTube, it might even go viral. That was a weapon of last resort, though, because this guy was hotter than July and I wanted to actually get to know him. Not just his place, not just his stuff and the contents of his safe – I suddenly felt I wanted to erase that awful, mortifying embarrassment I put him through, and there was only one way I could think of doing that.
The presidential treatment.
"Please. Won't you sit down?"
He did. I approached him from behind, running my hands up his shoulders and into his odd, blue hair. It was gelled in place, but I didn't care if I messed him up. My one and only goal was to make him feel absolutely, positively fabulous, and the only thing I had to go on was the video I had. Considering what I already knew about what he found pleasurable, he might be attracted to men, and if so, I'd make sure he found my company as thrilling and as relaxing as possible.
My fingers rubbed his scalp in gentle circles, progressing outward, toward his ears.
"Relax," I whispered by his ear. He hesitated, then his shoulders loosened just the slightest bit.
"There…not so hard, is it?" I let my breath caress the shell of his ear and was gratified to hear him draw a deep inhale. My fingers progressed outward, massaging his scalp right behind his ears.
He leaned into my hands.
Surprised, I deposited a small kiss on the edge of his jaw.
"C'm ere," he growled, pulling me around. I complied, ready to go through with my penance.
First one knee, then the other hit the durable, industrial carpeting between his polished shoes. I looked him in the face.
"You know what to do," he said, a challenge in his eyes as though he was daring me to proceed.
My hands slid up his legs, my fingers ghosted over his knees and thighs. His eyes were on mine, as still as deep water. He didn't move a muscle, didn't flinch.
Ahhh. A true challenge.
At that moment I felt a deep desire to hear those little sounds of pleasure again. My hands rose to his belt, undoing the smooth, silver buckle, unfastening the finely tailored trousers. The lush material caressed my hands and I shivered as a memory of his closet hit me.
The hiss and pant of pleasure.
Memories flooded me and I felt my body respond. My lips felt dry – no wonder, they've been parted for quite a while now, soft little breaths making their way in and out. I licked them. Grimmjow Jeagerjacques tensed at the sight; I basked in the sight of those eyes darkening, his pupils dilating.
Tender fingers made their way to his silk boxer shorts, careful not to touch him as I freed his half-erect manhood. I let my head descend between his legs, exhaling my hot, moist breath, feeling him stir in anticipation. I looked up. His eyelids slid halfway shut as he watched me with his lush, pink lips slightly parted. I grinned.
"Kurosaki." His gravelly voice sent a shiver down my spine.
I felt his fingers slide into my mop of too-long hair, clenching into a fist. I thrilled to the feeling of his grasping hand and opened my mouth, my tongue circling his head. The fist in my hair tightened and I felt his legs next to me straighten and relax.
I moaned, barely hearing, lost in the sensation of his silky hardness, letting my head bob as I slid up and down his shaft.
"Ichigo Kurosaki, what is the meaning of this?"
Byakuya Kuchiki's raven head was stuck through the open door of my office, his chiseled, ivory face shocked, his hand still on the doorknob.
I stood before Byakuya Kuchiki's desk. He leaned back in his black leather chair, his wide, gray eyes on my flushed face, an expression of disbelief still etched into his features. His pale gaze took in my disheveled hair, the red lips, the small bits of dust on the knees of my dark blue suit.
"Mr. Kurosaki. Words fail me. You've been in my employ for two years now." He paused, studying my sorry person for a while longer, not seeing what he was looking for.
"You have a lot of promise, however…your sense of judgment is sadly lacking. This prospective customer could have been one of our biggest clients. Your conduct…" He paused again and I jumped at my chance.
"Boss, I can explain…"
"Kurosaki." His lips thinned. "Your conduct was disastrously unprofessional, to say the least. You want to explain? Be my guest, but my mind is made up."
"I…I'm in love, boss."
His thin, elegant eyebrows rose. "It is my understanding that you've never met this man before."
"I've never met Mr. Shiffer before. Mr. Jeagerjacques and I are…well…our relationship, if you can even call it that, is complicated, and not always easy." That, at least, was the truth.
Kuchiki swiveled in his posh chair, staring out the window for a while.
"You may move your personal belongings out of your office today, Mr. Kurosaki. I will give you a two-weeks' severance pay, but don't expect glowing references. My recommendation will state that you are capable, talented and resourceful, yet sadly immature."
He stood and I knew it was over. Suddenly it occurred to me that he was beautiful in a way I never appreciated while he was still my boss. The midnight black tendrils escaped from his ponytail, framing his face with those devastating, high cheekbones and changeable, grey eyes and I could only imagine the toned frame underneath his office attire.
"What's wrong, Mr. Kurosaki?"
I sighed. "Thank you, . It's just…I was wondering, now that you fired me, why the hell didn't I fall for you instead."
To my surprise, his lips quirked upward in the slightest hint of a smile. "Because falling for your boss is never a good idea, Mr. Kurosaki." He paused before he exited his office, and looked me in the eyes, all serious now. "I wish you the best of luck."
"The bad news is that this is the last round of drinks I can afford," I told Renji. "Kuchiki fired my ass."
"No way!" Renji's eyes widened, his tattooed eyebrows giving him a fierce appearance. "What for?"
"Because Shiffer from BW&B is sick today and your former boss came instead of him. I was supposed to give him a presentation…" My voice trailed off and I reached for my beer and took a good swig.
"Yeah? What happened, did he explode or something?"
"You won't believe me."
Renji looked at my miserable countenance, a sly grin spreading slowly across his face. "Try me, you moron."
"Kuchiki walked into my office just as I was…" I paused, hesitant to fill the expectant silence. "He walked in just as I was on my knees in front of Jeagerjacques, giving him a head."
"Fuck!" Renji's mouth was full of beer as I said what I was saying and that was a mistake on my part – I should have waited for him to swallow. His beer-spray covered my good blue suit and my Grimmjow-blue necktie and my formerly crisp monogrammed shirt.
Renji looked at me in outrage. "I know he swings both ways, but man…that asshole forced you to go down on him in your own office?"
I cast my eyes at the wooden surface, studying the scarred, round bar table.
"You don't have to put up with this shit, Ichigo, let alone be fired for it. I want you to go and…"
"Renji." I put up my hand, feeling morose and forlorn. "Renji, I offered."
Once again, I managed to say something spit-worthy without checking whether Renji's mouth was full of beer or not. Soaked and resigned, I reached for another bunch of napkins.
Renji watched me clean up, all apologetic. I shrugged. At this point, this was the least that could happen to me.
"So what's the good news?" He asked.
"The good news is, you can apply for my old job. Kuchiki is a pretty nice guy. He never yells, he gives precise instructions, he's pretty good-looking…" I sighed. I'd miss old Kuchiki.
"So what, you'll apply for my old job now, Ichi?" Renji asked, uncertain.
"No. I've thought about it, but no. It's…I want him for myself. As a lover, not as a boss."
"What will you do, then? Job hunt?"
"I'll manage." Renji was my best bud, but not even he knew of some of my eclectic skills.