The clatter of high heels on tile was like a siren to Michelle Lord. She tidied her station and closed the file she’d been working on and pushed away from the desk. Tanya, the secretary one desk over, cupped her hand over the phone receiver and said, “Honey, when she snaps, you don’t have to say how high.”
Michelle ignored her and picked up the coffee cup from the edge of her desk as Diane Tanager came around the corner. Today, Diane wore a black suit with a knee-length skirt. Her wire-rimmed glasses had been replaced with black-framed a monstrosity that looked like a refugee from the Buddy Holly museum. Her dark hair was tied in a severe bun. Michelle was a little disappointed, but Diane looked good no matter how her hair looked.
Michelle held out the coffee cup and it transferred to Diane’s hand with the well-practiced ease of a ballet move. Michelle followed Diane into her office and stopped in front of the desk as Diane took her seat. “Anything drastic?” Diane asked as she rifled through the papers on her blotter.
“Nothing dire,” Michelle said. She shifted her weight to her left foot and hooked her right foot around the ankle. It was a stance she’d adopted early in her career when it became clear Diane might make her stand for a while. “Clark in Accounting wants to sit down with you about your expense report…”
Diane made a face. “Clark can sit on it and spin. Anything else?”
“Personal call, your housekeeper said you didn’t leave a paycheck for her…?”
Diane opened her desk drawer and withdrew her checkbook. “Bullshit. I left that…” She groaned as she opened the book. “Damn it.” She ripped off the top check and held it out to Michelle. “Take that to her, with my apologies. Go ahead and get some lunch while you’re gone. Forty-five minutes.”
“Okay,” Michelle said. She took the check and said, “What would you like?”
Diane shook her head. “You know me. Salad, something, you know.”
Michelle nodded and left the stack of remaining messages on the edge of Diane’s desk. She returned to her desk and grabbed her coat before heading out.
Michelle Lord and her boss, stood side by side, would never be mistaken for one another. One, tall and elegant in the latest fashions and the other, short and plain in a gray pleated skirt. She wore blouses with sleeves that ended up at her elbows by the end of the day, she wore plain white or black sweater vests and pinned back the flyaway wings of her blonde bob with faux-diamond barrettes.
Diane Tanager did not know what a barrette was. Her stylist kept her blonde hair short and manageable without too many accoutrements. She dressed only in clothes that had been walked down a runway instead of dropped in a bargain bin.
Michelle wasn’t pretty, but she was attractive in a way most people tended to notice. She stepped back into the elevator with a takeout bag from the Left Out Deli and pressed the button for the twelfth floor. She was focused on what she had to do that afternoon, on the papers she had left to file and, like always, ignored the admiring looks from everyone else in the car. It simply didn’t occur to her that they might be looking at the simple, plain girl in the flat shoes.
She knocked on the doorframe of Diane’s office and stepped inside. “Ms. Tanager? Your salad?” She held up the bag.
Diane glanced up and then twisted her wrist to look at her watch. “Fifty minutes.”
“You took fifty minutes.”
“Sorry, Ms. Tanager.”
“It’s all right,” Diane said. She put aside her folder and motioned Michelle forward. “What did you get?”
“That’s all right,” she repeated. She took the bag and set it in front of herself.
Michelle slipped out of the office and took a seat at her desk. She was about to pick up the phone when the door to Diane’s office slammed open. She dumped the salad in the trash and said, “A garden salad? With Thousand Island dressing? What were you thinking?”
Michelle blinked at the trash can and said, “I-I-I guess… they gave me the wrong order, Ms. Tanager. I can go back and…”
“No, you were five minutes late last time. If I let you go again, I may not see you for the rest of the day. Just try not to screw anything else up before you leave, all right?” She tossed a dollar bill at Michelle as she walked back into her office. “Get me one of those sandwiches from the cafeteria downstairs.”
Michelle was at the elevator before Diane called, “Five minutes!”
As Michelle meekly ducked into the elevator, Tanya clucked her tongue and went back to work. Tanager the Dowager had struck again. She didn’t know why sweet little Michelle put up with that bitch and her demands and her stopwatch-like schedule. The pay couldn’t have made up for the unrelenting abuse the poor girl had taken over the years.
When Michelle left work, she didn’t go home to the brownstone she shared with a newlywed couple. She packed up her things, said good-bye to Tanya and headed for the elevator. She knew Tanya, hell, everyone in the office, thought that she was a pushover. A wuss who couldn’t stand up to her bitch of a boss. She didn’t care and didn’t turn around to see them shaking their heads at her.
She walked out of the building with a cheery hello to the security guard. It was Tuesday night and traffic was nearly nonexistent at the hour. She crossed the street with a raised left hand and crossed in front of a sedan with black-tinted windows. Donald Trump out for a drive, maybe? She chuckled and waved as she continued onto the sidewalk.
The hotel was fifteen blocks away, so she wouldn’t have been wasting a cab ride. But she didn’t mind walking. Unlike the other secretaries who looked at her with sadness, she was wearing flat, comfortable shoes. Her feet didn’t ache and she could have walked for thirty blocks if necessary.
She paused on her journey to window shop, to run her fingers over the flowers set up for sale outside a small mom-and-pop store. Little pleasures she would have missed sitting in the backseat of a rank cab. The sky was getting darker and she heard more than felt the first drops of rain plop on the shoulders of her coat. She pulled her hat with the floppy brim out of her backpack and smashed her hair with it just as the sky opened up.
The hotel was really a former apartment building with only three permanent tenants. The lobby had bright yellow wallpaper and stained yellow floor tile, both of which caught the glow of the fluorescent lights and assaulted your eyes with the sheer ugliness. An armchair rescued from the 1970s sat cigarette-burned and stuffed-spilled in the corner, forgotten and humiliated and waiting patiently for a ride to the dump. She crossed to the check-in desk and pushed her hat off her head. “Hello, Mr. Young.”
The manager looked up from his book and smiled. “Hello, there, Ms. Smith! Same room as last week?”
“If you can,” she said.
He signed her name in the ledger and turned it around so she could sign it as well. She took the key from him and smiled a thank you as she headed up the stairs. One of the first floor rooms was host to a shouting match; from the sounds of it, the woman was winning. She went to the third floor and unlocked the familiar room. It was the same room she’d rented for the past couple of years, once a week, always and only on Tuesday. She left the door unlocked and went into the front room of the apartment.
The apartment had three rooms; a combination living room and kitchen, a bedroom and a bathroom whose doors stood side-by-side on the near wall. She opened the bedroom door and checked to make sure everything was neat and tidy. As expected, it was just as she’d left it last week.
The living room was dominated by a large orange couch and two ratty armchairs that were probably brothers of the one downstairs. The window looked out over a thin alley and she could see into the windows of the next building over. She shrugged out of her coat and folded it over the back of the couch.
She picked up her backpack and carried it into the bedroom. Her sweater vest came off and went into the corner. She unzipped the back of her skirt, let it slip down her legs and tossed it after the sweater. In her white blouse, white stockings and panties, she walked barefoot back into the living room. She sat on the couch, crossed her legs and picked up the pack of cigarettes off the coffee table. She tapped one out and balanced it between her lips. She lit the cigarette and waited.
After twenty minutes, there was a knock on the door. “Come in,” she said.
The door opened and closed quietly. The sound of high heels hitting the floor echoed through the quiet apartment and the visitor padded barefoot into the living room. Michelle puffed on her cigarette for a moment and blew a smoke ring towards the window before she finally looked at her guest. “What the hell was that with the salad today?”
Diane Tanager bowed her head. She was still in her skirt and blouse, but the jacket and glasses had disappeared. Her hair was down and brushed her cheeks as she looked at her clasped hands. “I’m sorry,” she said.
Michelle leaned forward and put the cigarette in the ashtray. “Come here.” Diane moved to the couch and stood next to Michelle’s legs. “On your knees.” Diane knelt and Michelle lightly brushed her cheek. “Wear your hair down tomorrow. You look so much more beautiful when you wear your hair down.”
“I’ve told you that before, haven’t I?”
Michelle sighed and said, “Put your hands wherever you want.”
Diane lifted her eyes briefly and tentatively brushed the back of her hand over Michelle’s thigh. She hesitated and then turned her hand over to cup the warm flesh just above Michelle’s stocking. “Good girl,” Michelle said. “You know I’m going to have to punish you for that salad stunt, right? You embarrassed me.”
“I know,” Diane said.
Michelle sighed and said, “Take off my stockings.”
Diane moved her hand and gently rolled the material down Michelle’s legs. She leaned back and lifted her foot, resting it on her stomach once the stocking had been removed. She brought the foot to her lips and lightly kissed the big toe. Michelle smiled. “Good girl.”
Michelle pulled her foot away and said, “Stand up and go into the bedroom. Undress, but don’t touch yourself.”
Diane nodded and stood. She walked into the bedroom and Michelle retrieved her cigarette from the ashtray. She puffed it for a few moments, listening to the sound of Diane’s clothes coming off and the squeak of bedsprings as she lay on the mattress. Michelle waited a few moments, savoring her cigarette, before she stubbed it out and stood up.
She walked to the bedroom door and took a moment to admire the sleek, naked form of her boss on the bed.
Diane was kneeling on the mattress, her wrists crossed in front of her. She was resting her hands on the wall over the headboard and had her head bowed between her arms. Michelle walked up to the bed and lightly brushed her fingertips down Diane’s spine. “Do you like that, Ms. Tanager?”
“Yes,” Diane whispered.
Michelle cupped Diane’s ass cheek before giving it a good swat. Diane jerked, but didn’t protest. “You shouldn’t have thrown out that salad.”
“You were wrong.”
“Yes,” Diane whispered.
“Yes, ma’am. I was wrong.”
Michelle smiled and bit her bottom lip. The first time she’d done this, she had been nervous. She’d refused to spank Diane, had refused to be mean. The next day, Diane had repaid her with a thorough dressing down in front of the entire department. A week later, Michelle had spanked Diane’s ass until it was red and her wrist was yelping in protest. The next day, Diane had been a benevolent non-presence. Michelle had found the secret to surviving Tanager the Dowager.
She climbed onto the bed and knelt behind Diane. Diane didn’t move as Michelle leaned forward and brushed her hands over her bare back. “What did you do today that was bad?”
Diane started to speak slowly. Lies she’d told to her partners, numbers she’d squeezed on expense reports, the salad incident, the man she’d taken a taxi from even though she wasn’t running late… With each transgression, Michelle lightly slapped her ass. When she stopped speaking, Michelle asked, “Is that all?”
“I masturbated in my office.”
“When?” Michelle asked.
“While… you were at lunch.”
“Bad girl,” Michelle purred. She slapped Diane’s ass. “You should have let me watch. Will you call me into your office next time?”
“Will you spread your legs for me?”
“Yes… yes, ma’am.”
Michelle licked the back of Diane’s neck and smoothed her hand over the red flesh of her ass. She backed up and pulled Diane away from the wall. Diane rolled to one side, sitting on her hip rather than her sore rear end, and looked up at Michelle.
Michelle looked her over. “Do you think you deserve pleasure?”
Michelle pulled apart the bottom halves of her shirt and leaned back. “So you’ll give it to me.” She lay back and spread her legs. Diane rose onto her knees and prowled forward. She kissed the inside of Michelle’s knees and then bowed her head reverently. Her breath washed over the crotch of Michelle’s panties and sent a shiver through her body.
Diane brought her hands up and rested them lightly on Michelle’s thighs. She licked her lips and then bent down to kiss her through her panties. Michelle sighed and whispered, “Good girl.”
Diane’s fingers danced over the soft flesh of Michelle’s thighs as her mouth explored the soft cotton of her panties. She used her lips to push the material, used her tongue to circle the interesting geography below. Michelle closed her eyes and leaned her head back. She brought her hands up and idly played with her breasts through her t-shirt. Diane looked up and saw the hard buds of Michelle’s nipples through her shirt and moaned.
“That felt so good,” Michelle breathed.
Diane moaned and pressed her lips against the underwear again. Michelle stared at the now-familiar water spots on the ceiling and rolled her hips against Diane’s exploring mouth. When she felt her orgasm cresting, she said, “Stop.” Diane immediately complied and sat up, folding her hands obediently in her lap.
Michelle pulled away from her and pushed her panties out of the way. She unbuttoned her shirt, knowing that Diane was transfixed on every movement, and shrugged out of it. When she turned, Diane’s eyes went immediately to her breasts. “Did you have any idea I wasn’t wearing a bra today?”
“Yes,” Diane said. “Y-yes, ma’am.”
“Did it turn you on?”
Michelle slipped a hand between Diane’s naked thighs and cupped her pussy. “Oh. Oh, yes, it did…” She slipped two fingers inside and watched Diane’s eyes drift shut, her lips part. She loved doing this, loved this effect. She slowly circled Diane’s clit with her thumb and whispered, “I made you so wet.”
She leaned in and kissed Diane’s lips as her fingers continued to thrust deeper into her pussy. Diane moaned into the kiss and rocked her hips against the invading hand. Michelle withdrew her hand, holding the wet fingers to one side as she lowered herself into Diane’s lap. She drew her wet fingers across Diane’s lips like a salve and then covered them in a kiss.
She settled her weight on Diane’s thigh and pressed her wetness hard against the warm flesh. Diane bowed her head and kissed the plain of Michelle’s chest. Michelle slowly lifted her hips and then dropped them back. Diane whimpered – a noise no one else in the office would ever hear – and pulled Michelle closer to her.
This time, Michelle let her orgasm crest and she threw her head back with the rising wave. Diane captured and suckled one erect nipple as her thigh grew wet.
Michelle pulled back and covered her pussy with one hand as she dropped to the mattress. Since her first lover, she had always been struck by a sudden and unavoidable modesty after climax. Even her little role-reversing game with Diane had yet to cure her of the quirk.
Diane, of course, always anticipated the humility and moved to the edge of the bed. She kept her back to Michelle and stared out the small window until Michelle quietly said, “Diane. Lie with me.”
Only then would Diane turn around and stretch out next to Michelle. Often, they would continue to make love through the night, taking turns between one another’s legs, touching and stroking and nibbling on each other’s tender areas. Some nights, they merely smoked together.
But Diane was never in charge. She never took control and always followed instructions. That was the one rule, and it never wavered.
The next morning, Diane Tanager’s high heels clicked loudly on the tile floor.
Michelle Lord was out of her chair, coffee in hand, as she came around the corner. “Messages?” Diane asked as she took the coffee. She didn’t even look Michelle in the eye as she breezed past.
“No messages,” Michelle said, smoothing her skirt against her rear end. She watched Diane disappear into her office and smiled as she retook her seat.
Tanya sighed. “Girl, seriously. You got to get some balls. Stand up to that bitch.”
“You just don’t understand,” Michelle sighed as she opened a computer file and began typing.
“What don’t I understand?”
Michelle’s smile widened and she gave Tanya a conspiratorial wink. “She was wearing her hair down.”