The Loft #3

an excerpt

Chapter One

I fixed my tie and jacket in the mirror of the men's room at work, trying to quell my nerves. Leslie and Mark were already in the board room and the client would be there in fifteen minutes.

I didn't usually participate in client pitches. I was part of the behind-the-scenes team--much more comfortable with writing and concept than presentation. But Jessica, the team lead, had broken her arm two days ago in a cycling accident, and there was no one else who could fill in. At least I'd worked on the project so I knew what it was about.

My phone made its text notification sound. I looked down to see a message from James:

Relax Tate. Picture them in their underwear. Or, better yet, like this:

He attached a photo of Sebastian, naked except for a steel chastity device, kneeling on the living room floor with his arms bound behind his back with black rope.

For fuck's sake! Now I had to deal with a hard-on on top of everything else.

I texted him back quickly.

NOT HELPING

And got this reply:

It's helping me.

Then sent:

You are a sadistic bastard.

And got:

Thank you. Knock 'em dead.

I shook my head in disbelief and turned off my phone, stuffing it in my jacket pocket.

James had booked the day off so he could take his time giving Sebastian what he needed after almost three weeks in chastity, and it pissed me the fuck off that while I was forced to participate in something distasteful and outright terrifying at work, he was getting his rocks off with our blond boyfriend at home. I wondered if he'd somehow orchestrated this entire thing. My eyes narrowed as I strode to the boardroom.

I pushed the door open and entered in time to see Leslie drop her cue cards and scramble to gather them together while remaining graceful in her pencil skirt and Manolo shoes.

"Mackenzie. Nice of you to show up," Mark, the account manager, said, not raising his eyes from the laptop on the table.

"Buford. What do you need?" I figured I'd start with a positive attitude. It was entirely possible, but extremely unlikely, that James would interfere with my work life by arranging all of this just to torture me. I decided to trust that it was a genuine exercise and try to put my best foot forward.

"I need you to make sure the boards are in the right order and go get some water for our guests who will be arriving in approximately seven minutes," Mark said.

"I thought Nancy was on hostess duty," I replied, flustered. There were glasses set out on the table but no water. And it looked like the coffee and tea were missing. "Are you guys always this unorganized?"

Leslie straightened up, blowing her bangs out of her face with a huffed breath. "No, we're usually much more prepared. But this client changed the time of the meeting, and we're scrambling, especially without Jessica here to handle things."

Jessica was, for all intents and purposes, the anchor which held the Accounts team together. She seemed to have a cork board in her head at all times, with everything and sundry related to each project perfectly organized and thought out. I don't know why anyone thought I could fill in for her. Although, it seemed I'd already been demoted to host/server/busboy.

I went to the kitchen, trying not to think about what James was doing to Sebastian right this minute. I filled two large pitchers with water and ice and carried them carefully to the board room. As I approached, I noticed three men in grey suits and a woman in a fitted brown dress coming from the other direction.

Oh shit. They were here. I moved faster and got to the door before they did. But then I realized I didn't have a free hand. I stood there helplessly for a few seconds, wondering how I'd manage this when a strong masculine hand wrapped around the doorknob in front of me and twisted. The latched clicked as the door opened.

"After you."

I looked up into brown eyes and a friendly, attractive male face. He smiled and gestured for me to precede him.

"Thank you," I said, moving into the room and placing the pitchers on the table, sloshing some water on my suit in the process.

"Shit," I said, louder than I'd meant to.

I looked up to see Mark and Leslie glaring at me, and the strange man--obviously one of our clients--laughing softly. I couldn't help giving him a quick once over because, for one thing he was an older man in an expensive suit, and for another thing, he'd helped me out of a difficult situation. He was pretty damned hot actually.

Fuck you, James and Sebastian and your cock teasing. I was damn well going to enjoy the view. At least I'd get something out of this presentation, even if it was only a memory to jerk off to.

"Have a seat please. We're just going to finish setting up. Mr. Mackenzie will bring in some coffee, and there are already some pastries on the table. Please help yourselves."

Coffee. Right! I turned around and walked straight into the man who'd opened the door to me.

"Uh, excuse me, sorry," I mumbled, inhaling a whiff of expensive bath products as I backed up.

He smiled and laughed, moving out of the way. "No, don't worry. I'll never stand in the way of hot…coffee."

I blinked. Was it my imagination or did he pause before saying the word coffee?

I didn't really have time to wonder. I hastened to the kitchen.

Luckily Samantha, one of the other admin assistants, was there and had just finished filling the coffee and hot water dispensers. I also realized Mark had followed me to assist.

"Thanks, guys," I said as I grabbed the coffee.

"Good luck!" Samantha said.

Mark grabbed the hot water and followed me out after I shot a grateful grin at Samantha.

We'd left the boardroom door open, so it was easy to carry the carafes in and place them on the refreshment table where cups and sugar and milk had already been placed. Jesus, nothing like an early Monday morning meeting to get the blood pumping.

Once Mark and I joined Leslie at the front of the room, she began the presentation.

"Welcome to New City Marketing, gentlemen," Leslie said smoothly. "We're so glad you could be here to see what we've come up with for Janis Gear."

Leslie and Mark were the pros and the driving force behind this campaign, so I let them take over. I stood to the side, watching and admiring their cool professionalism and wishing this was my forté. I was good at what I did and proud of what I accomplished, but part of me wished I could be good at this too.

While they worked their magic, I surreptitiously examined our audience. Mr. Helpful was the best looking of them all. The other two men were average on the attractiveness scale--at least on mine--and the woman was pretty enough but looked like she barely got a word in. Although she must be high up on the totem pole if she was here.

When I checked back on Mr. Helpful, he was intent on the presentation, his right hand playing with a pen while he listened. Suddenly, his eyes glanced over to mine, and he gave me a slow and obvious once-over from head to feet, before focusing on the screen ahead.

I felt my cock swell slightly in response. Did he like what he saw?

His next glance in my direction left me no doubt. He licked his lips and adjusted his position in the chair. I knew he was dealing with the same thing I was--unwelcome sudden wood. One side of his mouth curved up slightly as he pretended to pay full attention to the presentation.

With nothing better to do but stand here and look pretty, I watched the long fingers of his right hand caress the black pen with deliberate intention until he glanced my way again.

Fuck.

I hadn't been the object of a strange man's attention in a long time and it felt pretty good. There was the added bonus that James would be pissed off if he knew someone his age was eyeing me. But, really, I wasn't encouraging anyone. I was just standing here. If my mere presence drove some guy completely out of his mind in a very important business meeting, how was that my fault?

Finally, Leslie and Mark finished the pitch, and the clients gave a short round of applause. They'd obviously liked it, which was a huge relief.

"We haven't heard from you yet, young man," Mr. Helpful said when the clapping died down. "What's your perspective on this campaign?"

I cleared my throat, suddenly on the spot when all I could think about was how big his dick might be and how annoyed James would be that I was even wondering.

"I, uh, well," I said.

Great start.

"Mr. Mackenzie came up with the initial idea for the concept," Mark stated, to my utter surprise. "We just took it and ran."

Mr. Helpful seemed impressed. "Really? It's brilliant as far as I'm concerned. I think my associates would agree with me."

There were general comments of agreement between the other three suits, but Mr. Helpful still stared at me. Like he was still waiting for me to say something.

I gathered my courage and smiled. "I think your product is something quite unique. I hope you'll see that our proposal is equally unique and engaging." I stated confidently, but with a bit of deference. I was good at being deferential sometimes. When I wasn't being a brat.

"Well, it's obvious you've put a lot of effort into this proposal, and we'd like to take you on. Congratulations."

Smiles all around and handshakes then. When he got to me, Mr. Helpful took my hand in his firm grasp, eyes sparking with interest that only I could see.

"I look forward to working with you, Mr…"

"Mackenzie. Tate Mackenzie," I said, enjoying the warmth and slight roughness of his hand. I noticed the bulge in his suit pants and licked my lips. James couldn't fault me for salacious thoughts.

"Victor Le Grande--Director of Communications for Janis Gear Incorporated. Pleased to meet you. And thanks for the cold drink." He winked and gestured to the almost empty water pitchers.

"I'm glad you were able to quench your thirst, Mr. Le Grande." Mr. Big, huh? Suddenly I was Carrie from Sex and the City.

He grinned, letting go of my hand before it became too weird. He turned to go, then looked back. "I hope we'll be working very closely on this project."

I was about to protest that I was only filling in for Jessica, and she was the one he'd be working with, but I decided to let him have his fantasy.

"Great job, guys!" I said, congratulating Leslie and Mark. "You got the contract!"

"Thanks for helping out, Tate."

"I didn't do anything," I protested, "except spill water on myself."

"Yeah, well, I think Mr. Le Grande appreciated your attention to his needs," Mark commented with a grin.

"Fuck off, Buford."

He shrugged. "Hey, I'm not upset about it. If part of the reason they took this proposal is because you look cute in a suit, I have no problem with that."

I blushed. "Geeze, you make me sound like nothing but a decoration. I worked hard on this damn pitch. I just don't like to actually, you know, pitch it."

"No worries, Mackenzie. It's all good."

"You really think I look cute in this suit?"

"Later, Mackenzie. I've got a ton of work to do. And so do you."

Later, packing up at my desk to leave for the day, I texted James.

Thanks for giving me a hard-on right before the presentation. Is Sebastian still in the cage?

After a few moments he sent:

You're welcome. And, yes, he is.

I grinned.

Wait for me.