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Authors: Cara Bristol

Tags: #Contemporary Domestic Discipline

Body Politics (4 page)

BOOK: Body Politics
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Ah, kitten, you’re gonna have to do much better than that to brush me off
. “I’ll walk you to your car.”

“That’s not necessary. It’s right over there.” She ignored him and tugged the handle.

He shoved open his door and rounded the vehicle before she could exit. He’d snagged the butt glass from the backseat while she had wrestled into her clothing, and he slapped it against his thigh. He was sorely tempted to swat her hard on the behind. Instead he took her arm, helped her out, and, gripping her elbow, escorted her to her car. She had her keys readied, and he pried them from her stubborn fingers and unlocked her door.

“Well, thanks again,” she said. Under the streetlight, her lips appeared swollen from his kisses, her chin a little pink. He suspected her nipples were red and sore. They were still erect, tenting her shirt because she’d shoved her bra in her purse. In her haste to dress, she’d missed a buttonhole, and her shirt fit crookedly. The formerly sleek cap of her hair was spiked from his roving fingers.

“You’re going straight home?”

“Yes, of course.” The brusqueness of her tone was softened by a beseeching glint in her eyes. Until she settled the battle within herself, any further overture on his part would be rebuffed. He’d give her the space she needed. For now.

“Be sure you do.” Anyone who spotted her would know she’d been soundly fucked. He enjoyed the view, but no one else damn sure better.

When she was buckled up, he bent and kissed her hard on the mouth, sealing his claim. “I’ll pick you up at seven p.m. on Saturday night.” He tucked the glass into her hands. “A souvenir to remember our date.”

She narrowed her eyes like she intended to chuck it at him. “This wasn’t a date.”

He grinned. “No, that’s Saturday.” He shut the door and tapped the roof. “Drive safely.”

Mark waited until she fishtailed out of the parking lot and her taillights disappeared into the night before sauntering to his car, chuckling all the way.

Chapter Three

The trouble with one-night stands was the memories lingered long after the dirty deed had ended.

So did the sensations. Stephanie shifted on her computer chair and felt an immediate twinge in her sore but still-aroused pussy. Her female parts didn’t know when to leave well enough alone.

But she did.
Date Saturday night, my ass.

Concentrate, Steph. Concentrate
. She’d drifted in and out of focus all morning. Chunks were missing out of her weekly wrap-up session with her program coordinator. Had they talked about the new training? Better check.

“Everything a go for ‘Communication between the Sexes?’” Stephanie expected a thumbs-up on WAN’S first coed class.

“Haven’t gotten to it yet.” Bethany’s head was bent as she tapped some notes into her phone.

“What do you mean?” Her attention snapped to sharp focus.

“I’ve been so swamped with the other programs, I wasn’t able to get to it.”

“But it starts next week!” Stephanie gaped at her friend across the small round meeting table. No one met with a desk dividing them at WAN, because every person was equal, all their jobs of comparable worth.

Her office, formerly a janitor’s supply closet, was so small she needed only to stand and twist her body to reach the file folder on her desk. She yanked out a hard copy of the electronic newsletter sent out to the mailing list.

“I told you I had postponed the class.” Bethany raised her head.

“No, you didn’t tell me!”

“I think I did.”

“No, you didn’t.”

“You have a lot on your plate. We all do. It’s not your fault.” Bethany’s expression turned sympathetic.

“We have people enrolled in the training. I announced it at the last board of directors meeting.” She waved the newsletter like a flag. “I contacted the
Sentinel
, and one of its columnists, Cassidy Myles, is supposed to attend the first class and write a story. This will make us look like we don’t know what we’re doing.” Stephanie was floored. Though she’d assigned Bethany the task of developing the class, she bore ultimate responsibility for its success or failure. It was almost like Bethany was trying to sabotage her.

To her dismay, as the organization she’d founded had grown, so had the complexity and stress of running it. Increasingly she found herself embroiled in administrative red tape and organizational snafus that separated her from the women she served. Some days it seemed like all she did was run fire drills. Could Bethany have told her the class had been postponed and she’d forgotten?

No, she would have remembered something that important. A prototype upon which future classes could be based, male-female communication training could move WAN in a new direction. All other groups admitted only women. But if this one proved successful, others would be developed to bridge the gap between the sexes.

“I must have asked you at least weekly about it.” Stephanie ran a hand over her head in frustration. A memory of Mark tousling her hair intruded, and she quickly smoothed the strands into place.
Don’t think about him.

She rested a hip against her battered office-supply-auction desk. Hemmed in, she didn’t even have room to pace. The staff—five of them, including Bethany—shared one medium-size office, the larger spaces reserved for classrooms. The only reason she had an office was because they couldn’t fit another desk in the other. She tried hard to make everyone feel like a valuable member of the team.

“Yeah, I wondered why you kept asking me about it.”

“Because I thought we were progressing! Didn’t that occur to you?”

“I’m sorry. I truly thought you knew.” Bethany didn’t even blink. “Email the board, call the reporter, and tell her there’s been a change. We’ll get one of the interns to notify the members, and we’ll offer the women another class.”

Bethany’s authoritative tone—as if she were the one in charge—set Stephanie’s teeth on edge, but she took a calming breath and asked, “What about the men?”

Bethany shrugged. “They’ll find something.”

“There isn’t another program like this someplace else.” The genesis of WAN had occurred after a girls’ night out when she and Bethany had discussed the things women needed but often didn’t have. Stephanie started the first class, then called upon Bethany to help.

“That’s not WAN’s concern, is it?”

“It could be WAN’s concern. That’s the point. Men aren’t the enemy, Bethany.” Stephanie resisted the urge to pound the table. Men were as trapped by culture and upbringing as women were.

Mark didn’t appear trapped
. He was domineering, cocky, forceful. “
Easy. Easy, kitten
.” Condescending. Of all the men she could have chosen, why him? Actually she didn’t pick him. Elizabeth had, and in a weak moment fueled by hormones, Stephanie had availed herself of the opportunity to get laid. Biology may have won the battle, but it wouldn’t win the war.

“We need to reeducate men for the betterment of women.” Stephanie directed her thoughts away from Mark and back to the important issue. “Most women aren’t going to give up men even if they are sexist.” Unfortunately she was living proof. “As much as you’d like to, you can’t pretend half the population doesn’t exist.” She’d like to pretend one particular man didn’t exist.

“We’ll have to agree to disagree.”

Epiphany smacked her in the face. “That’s it, isn’t it? You deliberately didn’t develop the class to avoid including men.” She and Bethany had once been as close as sisters, then had drifted apart after college before reconnecting years later. She’d often suspected that during the hiatus of their friendship, Bethany had had a very bad experience that had soured her on men. And while Stephanie encouraged her staff to show initiative, she was the one in charge. Bethany sometimes forgot that. And her passive-aggressive bullshit was getting on her nerves.

“How can you accuse me of that? Yes, I think the class is wrong for WAN, but you’re the administrator, and this was your idea, and I’m willing to support you. That’s what women do. We work collaboratively and—”

“Steph?” The receptionist/office manager/administrative assistant’s voice came over the intercom. “You have a call on line one.”

Stephanie shifted her gaze to the phone. “Can you take a message, please, Evelyn?”

“Uh, okay, but it’s the deputy chief of police.”

Her body temperature soared, and she prayed it wasn’t reflected on her face. No doubt Mark wanted her address so he could pick her up.
Fat chance, mister.

Bethany appeared to focus on her smartphone again, but Stephanie sensed an avid interest. It wasn’t every day—no day, actually—that the deputy chief of police contacted WAN. She had no wish for Bethany to know how foolish she’d been, but ignoring the call would appear odd.

“I’ll take it.” She arched her brows, pointedly glancing at the other woman, but Bethany missed the cue for privacy. But why would Bethany think to leave if the call were business? Unlike hierarchical male organizations, where information was viewed as power and withholding it a strategic career move, WAN operated openly, honestly.

She took a breath, depressed the lighted button on the phone, and picked up the receiver. “This is Stephanie Gordon,” she said in a brisk, no-nonsense tone.

“This is Mark DeLuca.” His sexy voice rolled through the phone line and licked her clit.

She clamped her thighs together.

“Yes”—What should she call him? Chief? Deputy Chief? Calling him by his title would sound ridiculous on his end, but on hers, she had Bethany to contend with—“
Mark
, what can I do for you?”

“Oh, kitten, I can’t begin to tell you.” His low chuckle caused another pulse between her legs. “I’m in my office thinking about you, and I wanted to let you know how much I’m looking forward to our date tomorrow.”

“Don’t—”
Don’t call me kitten
. She broke off. Bethany was openly staring. Casually Stephanie turned her back, the twist of her body causing her cotton shirt to brush against her tender nipples, her lacy bra offering scant protection. He hadn’t been the least bit gentle with that part of her anatomy.
You didn’t want him to be. You liked it
. That alone caused consternation. She’d never thought of herself as the kind of woman who liked it rough. Nor had she ever been attracted to an arrogant macho he-man before.

“Don’t look forward to our date?” His tone was light.

Well, that too. She had to inform him there wasn’t going to be one, but she couldn’t do it with her audience.

“Not exactly,” she hedged.

“Do you have someone with you?”

“Yes!” Relief shot through her.

“Should I mention the ways you turn me on, beginning with the noises you make when I suck your nipples?” His baritone dropped lower. “How they tighten and harden on my tongue?”

“No!” she almost shouted, then forced a casual tone. “Uh, no, there’s no need.” It was an outrage that he would call her at WAN to talk dirty. It demonstrated he viewed her only as a sexual object and didn’t respect her. Her pussy quivered.

“How about how your—”

Frantic, she cut him off. “How can I help you?” Too late; she realized what she’d said, and she screwed her face up, braced for the worst.

“I’ll show you tomorrow evening.” His laugh lit up every one of her erogenous zones. Then he sobered. “Actually, I didn’t phone to tease you.”

He called it teasing; she called it sexual harassment. “Why did you?”

“To advise you to wear a dress appropriate for a cocktail party.”

Thoughts and feelings tangled. Stupidly, hurt pricked at her. She’d assumed he would prefer to spend time alone with her than attend a party in which intimate conversation would be limited. And how silly was it to be hurt by a date that wasn’t even going to occur? Indignation simmered at his presumptuous assumption that she’d go out with him in the first place. The conceited ass hadn’t even bothered to ask. He’d told her. Now he heaped insult onto injury by informing her how to dress! But he was a man—an alpha one—so she should have expected such arrogant behavior. She was disappointed in herself that he could so easily stir her temper, not to mention her libido. She was a stronger woman than that.

Cool as a cucumber, that was how she’d play it. Yep, a cucumber. Which was roughly the size of his—
Stop it!
She squeezed her eyes shut and massaged her temple to eradicate the memories, his hardness against her palm, his thickness stretching her. He’d hurt her at first—her own fault, she readily admitted—but then, oh Gloria. The best fuck of her life. But she hadn’t had that many men, so maybe he wasn’t that good; perhaps she lacked experience to judge.

No, he was that good
. And so sure of himself, he didn’t realize he didn’t know where she lived. Ha!

She peeked at a frowning Bethany and faked a reassuring smile.

“Do you have the address?” she purred into the phone. There! Neutral enough to fly over Bethany’s head and pointed enough to get the message through his thick one.

“Four seventeen Drury Lane. Apartment 217.”

Her jaw dropped. “Y-you… How…?” she sputtered.

“Being the deputy chief of police has its perks. See you soon.”

“No!” she cried, but he’d already hung up. She didn’t even have his cell number. When he’d called her to set up the meeting at the bar, he’d called from the police department, so she only had that number on her caller ID. She had a hunch she’d have a lot more trouble getting past the guardian dragons to the deputy chief of police than the deputy chief of police had getting to her.

She almost slammed the phone down but belatedly remembered Bethany. “That will be fine. Thanks for the information,” she said to empty air and gently replaced the receiver.

“You call the deputy police chief Mark?”

“It’s his name.”

Bethany curled her mouth with distaste. “It sounded like you two were having a lover’s spat. What was that all about? How do you know him?”

Bethany had been a friend first, but she was also an employee, and although the two roles often entwined, what business was it of Bethany’s—who’d unilaterally tabled a program she was supposed to develop—to question her phone calls? Stephanie didn’t answer to her—least of all about her private life. If she and Mark had been having a lover’s spat, it was inappropriate for Bethany to inquire about it. Nor did Stephanie appreciate the censure on her program coordinator’s face that she might be in a relationship with a man. Men were not the enemy! They were as injured by sexism as women.

BOOK: Body Politics
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